3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Seizure op Wire Netting.
– I desire to make a short statement in reference to a very serious and important matter. I have just received information, through the Minister of Trade and Customs, that the Premier of New South Wales this morning sent police to a wharf in Sydney, and, in defiance of the Customs authorities there, gained possession, by force, of wire netting which had been imported by his Government. I regard this as a very serious occurrence. I have asked my, honorable colleague to telegraph to his responsible officer in Sydney the instruction that he must make such arrangements that no more wire netting can be taken without the employment of actual force. We do not know what’ degree of force has already been used. The Minister has done this. He has instructed his officer to remove all the goods” on the wharf into the Customs shed, putting on the door a solid lock, or a chain and padlock, and to protest in every way against the action of the New South Wales Government.
– The Commonwealth Government is entitled to follow the netting that has already been taken.
– Why not arrest Mr. Carruthers ?
– I feel that I have acted’ judiciously in this matter. The action which has been taken by the New South Wales Premier is very” serious, and, I am sure, such as the Commonwealth of Australia will not tolerate. When we have more’ knowledge of what - actually occurred, and the degree of force used, probably further action will be taken ; but I intend to deal calmly with this matter, so that”, the Commonwealth Government may not be placed in a wrong position. However, I thought it my duty at this early moment- I have known of the occurrence only within the last twenty or thirty minutes - to inform the House of what has taken- place.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister tell the House what has become of a proposed appeal in regard to the liability of State imports to Customs duty? I think that about three years ago the New South Wales Government raised this question, and I understood that it was to be taken to the Privy Council. Something seems to have occurred since which has led to the postponement of the appeal. Can the honorable gentleman tell us what is the position in regard to this matter?
– I am not thoroughly acquainted with the facts, but. I think that the question was raised prior -to the establishment of the High Court, and that it remained for the Government of New South Wales to take further action, . if that was thought desirable. I understood that that Government was waiting for the establishment of the High Court before proceeding further ; but, since its establishment nothing has been done, until now, when this seizure of imported goods has been made.
– Did not the Government of New South Wales obtain a decision in its favour?
– I think that it did, and I believe that the Commonwealth satisfied that judgment.
– The Full Court decided in favour of the Government
– A subsequent appeal was to be made.
– The New South Wales Government would not appeal, if it obtained a judgment in its favour.
– WiM the Acting Prime Minister have inquiries. made, and inform the House as to the actual position of this - litigation ? Is it not this : that the Supreme Court of New South Wales decided that State imports are not liable to duty, but that the Commonwealth authorities, following the usual custom in these matters, have since been collecting duties on such imports;, and that an appeal was not made, because this Government was waiting for the establishment of the High Court ? If that be so, I should like to know whether the intention to appeal has been abandoned, or whether there is to be an appeal, either to the High Court, or to the Privy Council?
– Before entering the Chamber, I asked the- AttorneyGeneral to have the matter looked up, and to give me full information on the subject as soon as possible. I have not yet received the particulars which I require; but I’ hope to get them during the course of the day.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, has his attention been called to the fact that the Anglo-French Convention agreement regarding trade in arms, ammunition, and intoxicants in the New Hebrides is openly violated by French trading vessels, without interference by the French authorities in the group? Will he communicate at once with the British authorities requesting them to insist on the terms of the convention being observed equally by British and French traders?
– My attention has been directed to this matter, and a few days ago I gave instructions to have it thoroughly inquired into, so that action might be taken to prevent the continuance of the state of things complained of.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne), with concurrence, agreed to -
That leave of absence forone month be granted, on account of ill health, to the honororable members for Ballarat, Adelaide, and Mernda.
– I wish to know what steps the Government propose to take to obtain the formal consent of the Parliament of South Australia to the survey of a line for a railway from Port Augusta to the western border of that State? I would suggest that early action be taken. If the Acting Prime Minister will tell me what the Government proposes to do, and
When it proposes to do it, I shall be obliged.
– It is proposed to communicate immediately with the Government of South Australia, forwarding a copy of the Bill, and a statement of the actual position of affairs’ in regard to the proposal. It was intended that this should be done at once, and if it is not done- today, I shall see that it is done to-morrow.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Public Service Act - Recommendation and Approval of Promotion of Mr. J. G. Cameron, clerk, 4th class, Accounts Branch, Department of Defence, Queensland, to vacancy for an Accountant, 3rd class.
Defence Acts - Military Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulation No. 98. Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 84.
Statistical Methods. - Conference of Statisticians of the Commonwealth and States of Australia and Colony of New Zealand, on Unification of Australasian Statistical Methods and Co-ordination of the Work of the Commonwealth and State Bureaux - Melbourne, November and December, 1906.
Census and Statistics Act - Statistics of the Commonw ealth -
Trade and Customs and Excise Revenue, 1906. - Part I.
Official Bulletins, 1907 -
Trade, Shipping, and Oversea Migration -
No. 1. - January.
No. 2. - February.
No. 3. - March.
Trade, Shipping, and Oversea Migration, and Finance -
No.4. - April.
No. 5. - May.
Population and Vital Statistics -
No. 1 . - Determination of the Population of Australia for each quarter, from 31st December, 1900, to 31st December, 1906, comprising a Review of Census Methods, &c. .
No. 2. - Summary of Commonwealth Demography, 1901-1906.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at Culcairn, New South Wales - As a site for a Post Office.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
My attention was not previously drawn to this matter, as the practice is for the Central Office to be informed of interruptions to cables and Inter-State lines only.
Consideration will be given to the question of these lines with the view of minimizing delays through interruption as far as practicable.
Notice of New Duties - Duties on British Manufactured Goods.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The press paragraph referred to was not brought under notice. The Sub-Collector had no authority to hand the copy of the Tariff to the press, and exceeded his instructions in doing so. 2. (a) Sealedproofs of the Tariff were forwarded to the principal ports, with instructions not to open till further advised; also that alterations might be made subsequently, and that such would be: wired at the same time as instructions to open..
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
If it is the intention of the Defence authorities to make the Derwent Infantry Regiment (Tasmania) a partially paid regiment, and, if so, on what date will the change come into operation ?
– The answer to the honorablemember’s question is as follows: -
The question of re-organization of the Forces is now engaging the attention of the Government. To convert the Derwent Infantry Regiment into Militia would cost about£2,500 per annum, which would forman obligation, on the State.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will be good enough to state the number of actual military battles or engagements in each case in which the Inspector-General of the Forces and the officers commanding the State Forces respectively have taken part during the term of their service, whether Imperial or Colonial ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows
The.War Services of the Officers referred, to, as extracted from the Imperial Army List, are as follow : - .
Major-General J. C. Hoad, C.M.G., InspectorGeneral. - South African War, 1899-1900 - Special Service Officer (including service in command of 1st Australian Regiment, which heconverted into Mounted Infantry, and as Officer Commanding, Enslin) (10th December, 1899to 30th January, 1900). Advance on Kimberley. Operations in Orange Free State, including actions at Vet River (5th and 6th May) and Zand River. Operations in Transvaal in May and June, 1900, including actions near Johannesburg and Pretoria. Operations in Cape Colony, south of Orange River, including action at Colesburg. Assistant Adjutant-General Mounted Infantry Division. Despatches, London Gazette, 16th April,1901. Queen’s medal with three clasps. C.M.G.
Brigadier-General J. .M. Gordon, CB. - Commandant, New South Wales, South African War 1 goo. Attached to Staff of Base Commandant, Cape Town, as Staff Officer for Australasian Forces (Graded as an Assistant AdjutantGeneral). Operations in the Transvaal. Orange River Colony and Cape Colony. Despatches, London Gazette, 16th April, 1901. Queen’s medal with 4 clasps. C.B.
Colonel J. Stanley, Commandant, Victoria. - No War Service recorded.
Colonel J. S. Lyster, Commandant, Military District of Queensland. - South African War, 1902. - Commanded 1st Australian Commonwealth Horse. Operations in the Transvaal. Queen’s medal with 3 clasps.
Lieut. -Colonel J. H. A. Lee, Commandant, Military District of South Australia. - South African War, 1902. - Served with ist Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse. Operations in the Transvaal, January to May, 1902. Queen’s medal with 2 clasps.
Lieut.-Colonel H. Le Mesurier, Commandant, Military District of Western Australia. - South African War, 1900-01. - Served with 6th Regiment, New South Wales Imperial Bushmen as Adjutant, 12th April to nth May, 1900, in command 12th November, 1900 to July, 1901. Also in command of 8th Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse. ‘Operations in Rhodesia (17th to 25th May, 1900). Operations in .the Transvaal, west of Pretoria, July to November, 1900. Operations in . the Transvaal, Orange River Colony and Cape Colony, November, I000 to June, -1901. Queen’s, medal with 4 clasps.
Colonel H. D. Mackenzie, Commandant, Military District of Tasmania. - Soudan Expedition, 1885. - Suakim. As Brigade-Major of the New South Wales Contingent. Advance on Tamai Despatches London Gazette, 25th August, 18S5. Medal with clasp ; bronze star.
I have taken the information supplied, with regard to some of these officers, in the Imperial Army list. If there is any further information the right honorable member desires, I shall be glad to supply it.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
New South Wales.
Colonel C. M. Ranclaud. V.D., Commanding ist Infantry Brigade.
Lieut.-Colonel G. R. Campbell, V.D., Commanding Garrison Troops, New South Wales’.
Lieut.-Colonel J. M.- Onslow, A.D.C. to H. E. the Governor-General, Commanding and A.L.H. Regt.
Lieut.-Colonel J. Burston, V.D., Unattached List.
Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. J. W. McCay, V.D., Commanding 8th Australian Infantry Regt. -
Major R. ?. Courtney, Commanding Victorian Rifles.
Lieut.-Colonel J. F. Flewell-Smith, V.D.; Commanding Garrison Troops, Queensland.
Lieut.-Colonel W. G. Thompson, Commanding 15th A.L.H. Regt.
Major W. T. Deacon, CB., Unattached List..
Major J. F. Humphris, D.S.O., Commanding* 17th A.L.H. Regt.
Major S. P. Weir, 10th Australian Infantry* Regt.
Major J. Hay, 16th A.L.H. Regt.
Major H. B. Collett, nth Australian Infantry Regt.
Major H. Pope, Commanding Western Australlian Infantry Regt.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 1678) of motion by Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648).
– I should like to say that I propose on Friday next to ask honorable members to consider the Commonwealth Salaries Bill, which deals with the income lax question. I have had a communication from the Prime Minister, who does not wish that Bill to be held over until after the Tariff has been dealt with ; and therefore, although my desire is that nothing shall interfere with the Tariff discussion, I wish honorable members to know that I hope to deal with the Commonwealth Salaries Bill on the day named.
– I am sure we all feel deeply the inconvenience which attaches to the absence of the head of the Government on ordinary occasions, and especially is that the case on the present occasion. While I am sure every indulgence and latitude will be shown on all sides of the House in reference to the absence of the Prime Minister, there must be limits to this consideration. The present state of Government cannot go on indefinitely ; it is contrary to every rule that we regard. I am’ sure we all hope that, at some early date, the Prime Minister will be happily restored to health, and able to take his proper position at the head of the Government in this Chamber. I feel, and I think the public must feel, very deep regret, in view of ‘ the serious nature of the business in which we are about to engage, that the Government approach this task with such a slight measure of Ministerial strength. It is perfectly true that there is an overwhelming majority of protectionists in this House. Probably, if the names were analyzed, it would be found that there are at least fifty protectionists to twenty-five freetraders; and no doubt, on the question of the Tariff, the Government, however weak they may be generally, may say that they have a large majority of honorable members behind them. But even admitting that fact, there is great inconvenience and, possibly, many dangers, in our present circumstances, attending a task ofthis sort, which might well require the fullest ability of the strongest Ministry that could be formed, having a large body of support to carry it through to a successful termination. At present, the position of the Government is, I think, without precedent in the history of parliamentary institutions. In this House, leaving out Ministers, the Government have only the support of two members out of the twentyfour from New South Wales; five supporters out of the twenty from Victoria; no supporters out of the eight from Queensland, excluding the Attorney-General, who is a Minister; no supporters out of the seven representatives from South Australia; no supporters out of the five from Western Australia, and only one out of the five from Tasmania.
– Is the right honorable member for Swan not still a supporter of the Government ?
– I should like the honorable member to address that question to the right honorable member himself.
– But the right honorable member for EastSydney is making up a list.
– I should much prefer that the question should be addressed to the right honorable- member for Swan. It will thus be seen that, excluding Minsters, the Government have only eight supporters out of the members in this House, excluding themselves.
– Then why are they there ?
– The honorable member knows the reason why. There are a number of honorable members who, I think, show very ostentatiously that they are not supporters of the Government, if offensive language can show that ; and yet, in a perfectly rightful and just exercise of their discretion, they are keeping Ministers in office, not because they are fond of them, but because they prefer one species of opponent to another- that is all. I am not going to quarrel with that attitude, because every honorable member is perfectly justified in giving his support to or withholding it from the Government as he feels inclined, the distinction in the present instance being that gentlemen who sit below the gangway do not act independently., but as a brigade.
– Ah !
– There is nothing offensive in that remark, I hope; because discipline is desirable, even in a political party.
– The Labour Party have more freedom than any other party in Parliament.
– Then I am sorry “the Labour Party do not exercise their freedom more. From what I hear, the freedom of that party is exercised more- in the vaults than on the floor of the Chamber. In the Senate the Government have no supporters amongst the New South Wales senators; one supporter amongst the Victorian senators ; no supporters amongst the Queensland senators; no supporters amongst the South Australian senators; no supporters amongst the West Australian senators; and one supporter amongst the Tasmanian senators, or, including the two Ministers, four supporters amongst the thirty-six senators. In the 111 members in both’ Houses there are eighteen Ministers and supporters. Honorable members will admit that that is certainly not in accordance with our previous conceptions of the way to work the parliamentary system of Government. There may be objections to the parliamentary system - it may be possible to discover some better system - but so long as we work under a parliamentary system, the centre of gravity is not now in « the right place.
– The Labour Party are in the majority, and ought to be in power.
– Power, at the present moment, is not on the Treasury benches, but is in the possession of my honorable friends below the gangway - without responsibility. Let us take an illustration as applied to the present position. I believe there is a Committee of the Labour Party appointed to consider the Tariff ; and I say that that Committee has more power in shaping the Tariff of Australia, and will have more power, than all the Ministers of the Executive Government of the Commonwealth. Instead of the power of moulding this Tariff, which is a matter of vital and serious importance, from every point of view, to .the community generally - whatever our views may be, we concur as to that - lying with those at the helm of the State, it lies with those who are in no position of executive responsibility. I want to say that for this position the public are more to be blamed than are honorable members themselves. I think the honorable member at the head of the Labour Party was just as earnest as I was in appealing to the electors to put an end to that state of things - to bring some party into powerwhich would have a fair measure of responsibility and the necessary force to give effect to legislation. The electors have not responded to that call, and we are compelled to make the best of the present situation. I should like, in the first place, to rejoice with the Acting Prime Minister at the prosperity which surrounds the people of Australia at the present time. I am sure that is a subject on which men of all parties will join together in the expression of a feeling of satisfaction. But the man who forgets in these times of prosperity that there may follow- times of adversity - times of stress and trouble- does not fully apprehend the conditions on which Australian progress depends. We have no need to employ the penetrative power of political economy in order to discover the secret of our prosperity at the present time. It consists in the conjunction of kindly seasons with remarkably high prices for our primary products in the markets of the world. There is no secret about this prosperity. There are many other contributing causes, but the dominating, commanding influences which have brought about our prosperity are to be found in the conjunction of the two factors to which I have referred. But we know that prices in the markets of the world may fall at any moment, that our bountiful seasons at any moment may be succeeded by drought, and that the best use which the people of Australia can make of their prosperity is to strengthen our resources to meet the times of adversity which are sure to come. Prosperity is not a time for reckless proposals. Just as it is not a time for inflating personal expenditure, so it is not a time for unnecessarily increasing the public burdens. And when we talk of the prosperity of Australia we must not forget that iri some vital aspects it is far from satisfactory even now. At the present moment our population is increasing so slowly that our 4,000,000 ‘ will not become 8,000,000- if the present rate continues- for the next sixty-six years. At the rate of progress which has characterized Australia since the establishment of Federation, it will take sixty-six years to double our present population. When the Acting Prime Minister in Sydney the other day referred to the United States with her 80,000,000 of people, did it occur to him that at her present rate of progress it would take Australia about 600 years to arrive at that total, even if we had all the advantages which the United States possesses ? When we arrive at that 80,000,000 it is left to imagination to conjecture what will be the population of the United States. . Another most discouraging sign is that in the midst of this prosperity the total area under cultivation, in the six States of the Commonwealth has increased during the past two years by only 82,000 acres - at the irate of only 41,000 acres per annum. At this rate it will take us 220 years to double the present area under cultivation, which is between 9,000,000 and 10,000,000 acres. These are features which are unsatisfactory from whatever stand-point they may be regarded. Whatever may be the cause of them we must all admit that. We know that thebackbone of the marvellous industrial development of the United States consisted in the wonderful development of the agricultural industries of that great country, and we must feel sorry that our progress in that vital respect is not as rapid as we could all desire. In four out of the six States of the Commonwealth there was a smaller area under cultivation in 1905-6 than there was in 1903-4.
– That is a good argument in favour of a land tax.
Sydney, the opportunity of developing any; policy did not present itself. Butmostof the leading members of the present Government have been in office nearly the whole of the time which has elapsed since the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament. Notwithstanding the efforts of the ex-Treasurer, the right honorable member for Swan - and, I think, we must all give him praise for the great industry and ability which he brought to bear upon a number of important questions connected with the Commonwealth, and, especially in regard to its financial relations with the States - in what positiondo we find ourselves to-day?
– Does the right honorable member approve of. the ex-Treasurer’s scheme regarding the adjustment of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States ?
Mr.REID. -I am not at present referring to that matter, and I hope that I shall be allowed to choose my own line of observation. It is inconvenient to adopt that ofany other honorable member upon, the spur ofthe moment. I wish to point out that - upon the authority of the right honorable member for Swan when he was Treasurer - theGovernment had arrived at decisions upon some very important measures affecting the Commonwealth and the States. The approval of the Government to those measures was announced. In thisconnexion, I should like to make a quotation from Hansard of the last session of the last Parliament. Upon page 2032 the right honorable member for Swan, who was then Treasurer, is reported to. have said -
The proposals submitted have - as I have already said - received the approval of the Government.
That was the approval of the present Go-‘ vernment. The right honorable member was speaking of the present Government, and he announced to the people of Australia that his proposals in regard to taking over the debts of the States, the amount to be taken over, the continuance of the Braddon section, the amount and basis of the annual payments to the States, the bookkeeping system, and future borrowings by the States had been considered and approved by the Government. A very short time ago the Treasurer had represented the Government at a conference of Colonial! Premiers, and in passing through Sydney the righthonorable member is reported to have said -
The Brisbane Conference has approved of these ‘proposals -
I have referred to the nature of them - and I think that has been a great advance, for, subject to the approval of Parliament, the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States have been settled until1920. This is the fifth conference at which this matter has been discussed, and it is gratifying that, at last a mutual arrangement has been arrived at..
These are all comparatively urgent matters, and yet there is not a single word relating to them in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer. It is of no. use for the Treasurer to say, “ I have only just come into office,” because he was a member of the Government which discussed, considered, and decided these matters.
– I did refer to some of them in my Budget.
– The reference was certainly not in the nature of throwing any light uponthem. I saw in the honorable member’s speech a catalogue of them, but I could see that in the library. But certain observations were made by the Treasurer, which seemed to show that he intended to depart from the understanding which had been arrived at between the Commonwealth and the States.
– In reference to the Braddon section?
– It cannot be carried out.
– It was agreed to by the Prime Minister and the Government.
– The Commonwealth Government and the States agreed to the settlement of a large question of this sort, and yet the Acting Prime Minister, representing the) Prime Minister, nullifies the action of the latter, and tears up the agreement.
– The agreement was always subject to the approval of Parliament.
– I quite understand that. But in what way can Parliament pronounce an opinion upon it, if the Government tear up the agreement and do not submit it? .
– They have not torn it up.
– The Acting Prime Minister says that it cannot be carried out.
– It is impossible.
– The position reminds. me of thatoccupied by the two commodores, with wooden legs, in a certain comic opera. The Prime Minister and. the Government solemnly announce their approval of the agreement, and the Acting Prime Minister, in the absence of the Prime Minister.pro- nounces it absurd and impossible. Not only ought Parliament to entertain serious, objections to this state of things - unless our proceedings are to be in the. nature of a comic opera - but how much more ought . the States to feel aggrieved, when, after all these Conferences, the very Government which put its seal to this agreement, as representedby the accidental Prime Minister - I do not use the term offensively - says to the real Prime Minister, “ Your agreement in reference to this matter is absurd and impossible.” That is the state of things to which we have come.
– As a member of the Government, the Acting Prime Minister himself agreed to the arrangement.
– That is a mere incident.
– I never heard of it. It was never before the Cabinet, either.
– That reminds me of the marvellous statement of the Acting Prime Minister, when the deputy leader of the Opposition asked him a question in reference to the Naval Agreement, and his reply was, “ I am not in the mind of the Prime Minister on that subject.”
– In what?
– The Acting Prime Minister said, in reply, that he was not in the mind or confidence of the Prime Minister upon that subject. The simple fact is, that the Government sent Home an agenda of business to be discussed at the Imperial Conference. The Acting Prime Minister was a member of that Conference, and we have it, in black and white, that the Australian Government proposed an alteration as regards the Naval Agreement. It was a deliberate proposal by the Ministry to the Imperial Government, and it was discussed at the , Imperial Conference, where our Prime Minister made a long speech, in which he explained that the people of Australia were opposed to the agreement, that it was distasteful to the citizens of the Commonwealth - and I think he said to the Admiralty, also - and in which he expressed the hope that the Imperial Squadron would still get their supplies from us - that they would continue to buy their supplies from us even if we discontinued the existing subsidy, and that the squadron would occasionally visit our shores. If the State of whichthe PrimeMinister is a representative had spent £500,000, as NewSouth Wales has done, to provide a head-quarters for the Imperial Squadron in our waters - it is not a matter- of much importance, I admit - it might have dawned upon him-
– The Imperial authorities are also to let a big ship visit us sometimes !
– The ties which bind us to the motherland would ho doubt be strengthened immensely by an occasional visit from vessels of the Imperial Fleet, in company, perhaps, with ships of war from a Japanese Squadron. The position is becoming intolerable. It is preposterous that the Government should make formal proposals to the Imperial Government to re-, peal a solemn obligation sanctioned bv Parliament for ten years, and that the Acting Prime Minister should then say - notwithstanding that he came all the way from England with the Prime Minister - that he was not taken into the confidence of the latter upon this subject.
– If the right honorable member will permit, me, what I said was that I did not know what was the intention of the Prime Minister, and that he himself desired to make a statement to the House in reference to the matter.
– I air, always obliged to the Acting Prime Minister for his answers to my questions. Evidently he does not know what the Prime Minister is going to do in regard to this matter. He does not know what sort of statement the Prime Minister will” make to the House when he returns. In the present unhappy state of things this may be inevitable, but I think that we all agree - even those upon whom the Government are dependent for the support necessary to keep them in office - that this sort of thing is not calculated to enhance the dignity of Parliament or to promote the success of our labours for the public welfare. There should be a clear, continuous anr! consistent policy in regard to matters which have engaged the attention of the Government, and upon which they have arrived at conclusions affecting other parties with whom they have conferred.
– The people of Australia know what are the views of the Labour Party with respect to the Naval Agreement Act.
– I think that the honorable member and bis party voted against the Naval Agreement Bill, but I do not believe that on that occasion- they represented the views of the majority of the people of Australia.
– I presume that none of us can say with any degree of assurance that we represent the views of the majority of the -people.
– That is true. The best, or the worst, test in these cases is the fact of honorable members acting on their own responsibility. The spectacle ‘of the Australian Ministers at the Imperial Conference battering at a door, which they knew could never be opened, in order to obtain for Australia advantages which could be gained only by the taxation of the necessaries of life of the overcrowded population of the mother country, and, at the same time, practically withdrawing Australia’s small contribution to the British Navy, was a very melancholy one. I think I may fairly k say that even those who voted against the Naval Agreement Bill, once it had been ratified by the Australian Parliament would not be likely to dishonour it.
– Lord Tweedmouth practically invited the Australian representatives at the Imperial Conference to propose the cancellation of the agreement.
– That is rather mean. The British people have never posed as a community insisting upon any contribution from Australia. They have consented to taxation - taxation imposed in the exercise of the proper independence of an Australian Parliament shaping the industrial destinies of the Commonwealth-
– But I am speaking of what occurred before any action was taken by the Prime Minister.
– As the honorable member is aware, many of these negotiations are carried on behind the scenes. We are not familiar with all of them.
– I have read the Blue Book.
– I have also read the Blue Book. Lord .Tweedmouth went to the Imperial Conference to hear the debate on the proposition submitted by the Austra-1ian Government. He sat there and listened to an appeal by the Prime Minister of Australia that the British Government should consent to the Naval Agreement being so dealt with that we should be able by a method of our own to take up. the naval defence of Australia. Was it likely that the Imperial. Government would say anything to the Prime Minister about our wretched grant of .£200,000 per annum? Notwithstanding all that Great Britain has done, and is doing, for us, in granting us the protection of the flag, whilst we carry out our own policy - a policy distasteful and, in some aspects, dangerous to British policy in other seas - there has been no attempt ‘on the part of her Government to influence us. We have been allowed absolute freedom to shape our national destinies. We. have an Act of Parliament which puts what looks like the widow’s mite into the Imperial Treasury, and Australia is busy in an effort to secure its repeal, in order to do something which we have to do and ought to do. Without desiring to use any strong language, I must say that such tactics place Australia in a contemptible light. The position became still more contemptible when Ministers, who had the courage to face the Imperial Government, and to ask them to tear up the Naval Agreement, came back to Australia, and had not the courage to intimate in the Governor-General’s Speech that they proposed to secure the repeal of the Act. They go behind the backs of the people of Australia, and say to the Imperial Government, “ Australia wants this agreement torn up.” When they return and face Australia we hear all about every twopenny halfpenny thing that happened at the Conference, but news as to this one item, which would be welcome to the Parliament of the Commonwealth, is conspicuous by its absence. The printed memorandum setting forth the matters which the Australian Government placed on the businesspaper of the Conference contains the proposal, “ That the provisions of the Naval Defence Agreement 1902 be reconsidered.” The Government did not ask us to reconsider those provisions. They went to the other end of the world to beg the Imperial Government to allow us to withhold, in spite of our own Act of Parliament, the grant of £200,000 per annum, but on their return they had not the courage to ask this Parliament to repeal the Act. As a matter of fact, provision is made on the Estimates of the current year for the payment of the full amount of £200,000. I do not think that these facts place us in a very good light. Three items in the revenue for last year explain the source of our prosperity. The revenue of the last financial year was about £950,000 in excess of that derived during the preceding twelve months, and three items represent, roughly, £494,000 of that increase. What are they ? In the first place, “ Apparel and Textiles “ were responsible for an increase of £163,000. What does that mean? That, as the prosperity of the people increase, they surround themselves with more comfort in their homes, and especially with greater comfort in respectto clothing. Unhappily, the item of “Narcotics and Stimulants” is one of the most reliable barometers of public prosperity, and we find that under this heading there was an increase of £185,000 in the returns for the last financial year. “ Metals and Machinery “ also show an increase of £146,000 - an increase nearly as great as that in the return for narcotics and stimulants. That advance shows that in this time of prosperity large developments have taken place in our primary industries - developments requiring an enormous importation of metals and machinery. Thus we have in three small lines in the Budget statement the history of our prosperity. It is very instructive to glance at the figures relating to the last financial year, and the estimated returns for the current financial year. I have said that the revenue last year showed a total increase of about £950,000 as compared with that of the preceding twelve months. It is estimated that this year we shall have an increased revenue of £900,000, or, in other words, a total increase of £1,850,000 in respect of the two years. Let us glance for a moment at the position of the States in the light of this wonderful advance. In spite of a total increase of £1,850,000, the amount returned to the States in excess of the three-fourths to which they are entitled this year will be £700,000 less than the amount returned last year. Notwithstanding the new duties, the Acting Prime Minister will hand back to the States, in excess of the three-fourths of Excise and Customs revenue to which they are entitled, £700,000 less than was returned to them last year. Last year the Treasurer returned to the States in excess of their three-fourths a sum of £805,000 ; the present Treasurer estimates to return this year only £103,000. Can we wonder that the States become restive when the Acting Prime Minister, with that delightful view of political economy which makes him so attractive a politician, says, for example, to the ruffled inhabitants of New South Wales, “ How ungrateful you are. We have given you back £3,000,000.”
– Over £3,000,000
– The honorable gentleman says to them, “ We, the Commonwealth, have given you, the Commonwealth, £3,000,000.”
– Given over £3,000,000 not to the Commonwealth, but to New South Wales.
– I beg the Acting Prime Minister’s pardon. I should have said New South Wales.
– But New South Wales is the Commonwealth, is it not?
– No, it is only a part of the Commonwealth. The Acting Prime Minister seems to think that even if he beggared every man, woman, and child in Australia by excessive taxation, as long as he put millions into the States’ Treasuries, he would be entitled to a statue ! He imagines that he would be entitled to a statue on account of the magnificent liberality with which he had beggared the people in order to enrich the States’ Treasuries. Do we not all know - and no one knows it better than the Acting Prime Minister - that when politicians obtain possession of revenue from taxation, very little of that money is returned to the people? We are all lacking in that respect. I claim no absolution in that regard. It is the’ hardest thing in the world for the people to get back anything they have paid to the Treasury.
– What is done with the money ?
– It is expended on various useful public services of a most magnificent character which no one can discover.
– That is too clever to be accurate.
– During the year 1902-3, the revenue derived by the Commonwealth was £1,640,000 less than the amount which it is estimated will be secured this year. And yet a sum of £1,208,000 was returned to the States.
– At that time we had not taken over many services since transferred to the Commonwealth.
– I do not intend to overlook that point. The amount returned during the previous year was, I think, only
– The Commonwealth Tariff was in operation for only a part of thatyear.
– I wish, to point out the extraordinary position in which the finances of the States are placed by reason of” these fluctuations. In 1902-3 the States obtained £1,208,000 in excess of the threefourths of Customs and Excise revenue to which they were entitled. With a revenue £1,640,000 in excess of that for 1903, the Commonwealth estimates to re turn the States £1,100,000 less than was then handed back to them. . No system of Commonwealth or State finance could ever be on a sound footing whilst such fluctuations occurred.
– Since 1903 we have relieved the States of a lot of functions.
– We have to pay something like £600,000 by way of bounties.
– No . one can manufacture expenditure better than the Acting Prime Minister can do.
– I did not manufacture that expenditure.
– The honorable gentleman did.
– What ! Manufacture the expenditure in connexion with the sugar bounty ?
– I thought the Acting Prime Minister was referring to the expenditure under the Bounties Bill. We have so many bounties now that confusion is sometimes likely to arise in connexion with them.
– The States obtain £600,000 in respect of the revenue from the Excise on sugar - an item which they did not previously secure’.
– The people of Australia were determined to carry out a certain change in regard to the sugar industry, and have not grudged too largely the expenditure which seems necessary to give effect to that policy. There can be no doubt that the expenditure in respect to the sugar bounty stands on a special footing.
– It seriously affects the general expenditure and the amount returned to the States.
– No doubt; but it does not make in one year a difference of £700,000 in respect of the surplus revenue returned to the States.
– It will make this year a difference of about £500,000.
– I thought the honorable member held that that amount was specially collected.
– If it were- eliminated, it would make a difference of about £.500,000 in our expenditure.
– I am referring to the difference between the expenditure . of last year and the estimated expenditure for this year. The difference between the expenditure in respect to the sugar bounty during last year and that estimated to be expended this year cannot be anything like £500,000. It is impossible on such an occasion as this to analyze these figures in detail. Such an analysis would be intolerably tedious. I am simply throwing out matters for consideration, and many of them may be capable of explanation.
– It cannot be denied that we are losing £500,000 in respect of the sugar industry.
– We are not.
– We increased the Excise for the special purpose of increasing the bounty.
– The point is that we cripple our finances by paying the bounty.
– The Commonwealth gets only one-fourth, while the States get three-fourths of the Excise and Customs duties.
– The total result is that the States gain by the sugar Excise and bounty.
– That is so. I. am referring to these matters only sketchily and briefly, because I wish to address myself chiefly to the more important subject of the Tariff. In the first place, I desire to call attention to what seems to me one of the most serious positions’ that a country has ever been put into. I do not know whether the Government has abandoned certain proposed enterprises to which I understood it to be committed, and which I shall proceed to mention one by one. Ministers say, “ We are largely increasing the duties to give more protection to our manufacturers; and the revenue will necessarily decline as local manufacture increases.”
– We hope so.
– Every protectionist, and, indeed, every free-trader as well, must hope that the people will get the greatest benefit possible from the burden which has been placed upon them. No one desires that they shall be burdened without obtaining an advantage from the bearing of that burden. I am concerned now only with the financial result of the Tariff. The Government will have only £100,000 with which to do as it likes. That is the amount which need not be returned to the States. Under a provision of. the Constitution, which cannot be altered’ for some years to come, we must, in the coming year, after providing for necessary expenditure, return to the States all but £100,000 out of the revenue received from Customs and Excise, which is practically our only source of revenue. That is the amount which, after the repayment to the States of the three-fourths returnable to them under the Braddon section of the Constitution, will be left to us for the conduct of the great enterprises to which the Government is committed. The first of these enterprises is the establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions. Is it not an extraordinary and sad state of things that, with an increase of taxation amounting to £1,000,000 a year, the Government has not made any suggestion for utilizing any of the money to bring that system about?. There are those who think that the people live only to be taxed ; that a nation can be taxed into prosperity. A large number of honorable members, believes that by Customs taxation we can strengthen the industrial foundations of the country, while another large number says that by taxing the lands we can strengthen those foundations.
– A number of honorable members on the right honorable member’s side of the House used to think so at one time.
– The right honorable member used to say so.
– I have said nothing qf the sort. I am sorry to have to refer to State politics, but may I remind honorable members that when I was instrumental in imposing a land tax in New South Wales, the Government of that State was paying for the construction of roads and bridges over 306,000 square miles of its area. The Government was providing money for roads, bridges, and various local improvements for all but 2,000 square miles of the area of the State.
– Why did the right honorable member exempt existing municipalities from his Local Government Bill?
– I have not that delightful and inflated vigour which comes from a recent trip to the other end of the world, and, therefore, desire to be allowed to address myself to the important task which is set before me without being asked to dis: cuss other subjects. The Treasurer tells us that at the end of this year he expects to have only £100,000 to spare. How is money to be found for a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions? Is another £1,000,000 of revenue to be obtained from Customs taxation, or is a land tax to be imposed? My honorable friends in the Labour corner do not care which. They say, “ You can obtain your £1,000,000 by-
Customs taxation, but we should prefer you to get it by means of a land tax.”
– To obtain £1,000,000 of revenue for the Commonwealth by Customs taxation would require the levying of £4,000,000, because of the operation of the Braddon provision.
– That is perfectly true. In view of the fact that Victoria and New South Wales, which have huge surpluses, are now paying £700,000 a year for the maintenance of old-age pension systems, it is inexpressibly bad that the crime of taxing the people to find more money for the purpose should be proposed.
– That is an extraordinary statement.
– There is no excuse for the States not conferring on the Commonwealth Parliament the right to federalize old-age pensions. That would get over the trouble of raising, by Customs taxation, more money than we require.
– The States will not do that.
– New South Wales and Victoria are willing to do it. At the Hobart Conference I got four out of the six States to agree to it.
– They might be’ got to agree to a course of action, but they will never consent to pay the necessary money.
– It is a monstrous thing that, .with overflowing treasuries in New South Wales and Victoria, we cannot arrive at some friendly agreement with the States for the establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions which will get rid of the necessity of raising the money by Customs taxation under the inconvenient Braddon section.
– In their present frame of mind the authorities of the States will never give anything to the Commonwealth unless they are compelled to do so.
– I view this matter with great disappointment, in face of the fact that if we provide in any other way for the establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions, £700,000 will be added to the distended surpluses of New South Wales and Victoria. Another enterprise which we must consider is the taking over of the Northern Territory. In 1 901, Mr. Speaker, who was at the time Premier of South Australia, offered the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth if the Commonwealth would consent to accept the State’s liabilities in respect to that Territory. The offer is contained in a State paper which has been made available to honorable members.
– It was withdrawn before we could deal with it.
– I was not aware of that. I asked for the papers connected with the subject, and received that to which I refer, which does not contain the information afforded by the honorable member’s interjection.
– Since then, a fresh agreement has been entered into tentatively.
– The proposition, as I have outlined it, is a very simple one, and would not, perhaps, occasion much trouble. But it goes further. To begin with, the Commonwealth would have to pay an amount approaching £3,000,000.
– In 1901 the amount was something under £3,000,000, but it has since “ been increased, lt is suggested also that we should construct a line of railway right across Australia, from the north-east to the south-west, connecting a line which now runs from Port Darwin to Pine Creek with the extension .from Adelaide and Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. We are to build an enormous length of railway, and to resume and pay for that long stretch already built.
– The Commonwealth is asked only to take over the liabilities of South Australia as they fall due.
– If we accept the obligation to construct the enormous length of line to which I refer, we must honorably fulfil it.
– The Commonwealth is not being asked to pay £3,400,000 now, but simply to meet, as they fall due, the debts incurred by South Australia in regard to the Territory. ‘
– If we enter upon the construction of a line of railway across Australia, over many hundreds of miles of country, and resume a lengthy existing line, our financial obligation will be a very large one.
– It will mean a deficit of £140,000 a year.
– I do not wish to go into details. Indeed, I do not think that we shall ever be able to consider details while our financial position remains as it is. How could we do so with only £100,000 to spend ? It seems to me that we must face these matters in a practical way. It is idle to talk of carrying out these great enterprises on finances which are shaped as ours are.
– The honorable member for Swan wished to tie the Commonwealth up to the Braddon section for another term of ten years, and worse.
– Not at all. I proposed special duties.
– The honorable member for South Sydney forgets that the Prime Minister approved of the scheme of the right honorable member for Swan.
– If he did so, he must have been caught napping.
– He congratulated me upon it after my return from Brisbane.
– I wish that my enemies would account for my political vagaries in this way. If I had made a mistake like that of the Prime Minister, it would not have been said that I was dreaming ; the blunder would have been attributed to an innate moral depravity. Having hurriedly dealt with the general position of our finances, I wish now to speak on the Tariff. Persons have said to me, “ Now then, Reid, turn these fellows out. Don’t you have these iniquitous burdens put on us.” My reply has been, “If I were an anarchist I might do it. I might blow them off the Treasury benches with a bit of dynamite; but nothing else would remove them.”
– Why does the right honorable member say a “bit of dynamite?”
– I have not had experience -enabling me to say exactly how much would be required; but I know that something in the nature of dynamite or gelignite would be needed. The point I wish to make is this : The people of Australia were invited by me to leave the Tariff as it was, and they emphatically refused to- indorse my policy, sending in a majority of, I think, two to one, who are perfectly free, in the honest performance of their pledges to their constituencies, to increase the Tariff. The present position is quite different from that which existed in the early days of this Parliament. We thought that Sir Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister, did not act as candidly towards the people as he should have acted; that his Tariff was not a fulfilment of his election pledges; and the same view was taken in regard to the second instalment of duties. But now the sting which used to prompt us to such desperate exertion has gone. We have honestly to admit that a large majority of honorable members were returned to support higher duties. If we try to persuade them not to do so, we shall be asking them to betray their pledges to their constituents, and it would be absurd for me to address myself to such a task. The people have given to a large majority in this Chamber full warrant to increase Customs duties in order to make protection more effective. Therefore, the sting is out of the situation. There can be no talk of treachery. Of course, I do not suppose that the people, in their maddest and most sentimental dreams, ever thought that they would get such an instalment as has been placed before them. That, however, is a matter for the protectionist members of the House, not for me, to deal with. Only protectionists can work out what they think a fair thing; I cannot pretend to do it for them, because I am not authorized. All I can say is that I think honorable members on this side will be found endeavouring, in the performance of their duty to their constituents, to make the Tariff as low as possible.
– As low as possible ?
– As low as possible - in the performance of our duty to our constituents.
– I thought the right honorable member was going to help me.
– I was going to say that I would like to know more about the Acting Prime Minister before I would* help him; but I know enough. I am- not going to indulge in any sort of factious opposition to what I consider to be the deliberate vote of the Australian people, but I am going, in justice to my constituents, to make the Tariff as low as I can. I was not returned to help protectionists to increase duties, but to endeavour to keep the duties down to the standard of a revenue Tariff. As honorable members will understand, we have all our respective duties to perform, and I propose to perform mine. But I shall not regard protectionists as engaged in any treacherous or nefarious attempt behind the backs of the people, because any statement to that effect would be untrue.
– There is no “sneaking in “ this time.
– I will say of this Tariff that there is no “ sneaking in “ - it is downright burglary. The Barton Tariff was a “sneaking-in” process, and the people have been getting more used to the bite; now they are going to get from this Government a real honest protectionist bite. But so far as I am concerned, I hope that the moderate protectionists . in this House will not allow to be passed the enormous duties which are proposed’. Those moderate protectionists have the power, whereas we on this side, twentyfive against fifty, are absolutely powerless, and cannot prevent any duties being carried. Honorable members on the other side may vote for duties of 35 per cent., 40 per cent., or 45 per cent. while we here are absolutely powerless. But. we! have to perform one duty, and that is to show the public what in our view will be the effect of such proposals; and to that question I propose to address myself. There is a person in Australia whom nobody ever seems to look after - he is called the con.sumer. When the Tariff Commission went all round Australia, there were armies of hungry men clamouring for increased duties; but nobody ever represented the 4,000,000 men, women, and children, who happened, to be consumers - who happened not to have anything to sell, but to desire to buy something. I believe one or two representatives of the consumers did attend before the Commission.
– Two out of 4,000,000 attended to remind the Commission that, whilst every one does something, we have, as consumers, to pay in a hundred different directions.
– Most of them expressed their opinion at election time; they have votes.
– There are two kinds of consumers; there is the man who consumes a thing he pays for, and the man who consumes the people who pay for the things. There are two kinds of consumers : the man who gets at the people behind the Tariff fence is a consumer, but he is a consumer of other people ; that is the difference.
– I say that the consumer had a vote at election time.
– May I suggest that that is not an answer to what I am saying? I am saying that only two consumers made their appearance before the Tariff Commission ; and, after all, we are all consumerseven protectionists are consumers.
– The election showed the indifference of the consumer.
– How can there be said to he indifference, when the protectionist, leader of the Labour Party of New South Wales clambered into the express train to come to the protectionist leader of the Labour Party in this Parliament to implore the latter tohave some of the extravagant duties removed from the necessaries of life?
– When was that?
– I understood he had come to Melbourne Did he not arrive?
– If the right honorable member refers to Mr. McGowan, that gentleman came over to ask that a number of revenue duties should be taken off, and to find out how far the retailers of Sydney were justified in the robbery they had been engaged in.
– That is a grand red herring - the “robbery.” Let us first deal with the. other matter. Does the leader of the Labour Party call a duty of 45 per cent. on clothing a revenue duty?
– Did Mr. McGowan desire a reduction in that duty?
– He did not say anything: about the duty on clothing.
– I am glad to hear that. We now know what a sham the movement is. The idea of a man coming here to ask the Labour Party of Australia to lessen the duties which press on the poor people, and saying nothing about a duty of 45 per cent, on the clothes they wear.
– The right honorable member knows that there is not a duty of 45 per cent. on Australian-made clothes. This is only begging the question.
– There is not a duty of 45 per cent, on clothing from Great Britain.’
– No; it is 40 per cent. I am much obliged to the Acting Prime Minister for his correction.
– I wish the duty were 100 per cent.
– No doubt; because the honorable member is all right ; he can meet any of those emergencies now. What is 40 per cent. on the honorable member’s clothes now? I wish to come back to the question about the “robbery.” A man who does not expect such things to happenwith increased duties must be a simpleton.
– Retailers are charging; extra prices where there have been no increases in the duties.
– That is a disgraceful piece of dishonesty.
– On a reel of cotton thread, for instance, Mr.. McGowan informedme an extra charge is being made, although there is no increase in the duty.
– They are charging extra prices on Colonial-manufactured articles.
– It is a disgraceful piece of dishonesty for a man to do that. It is really obtaining money by false pretences - making the pretence, in some cases, that there is a duty on an article on which no duty is paid.
– There is no duty on thread, except 5 per cent. as against Germany.
– No man can have a word to say in defence of conduct of that sort. But apart from absolutely false pretences, we all know that in the business world, even amongst protectionist manufacturers, a man gets as much as he can for what he makes. If my friends opposite will produce a protectionist manufacturer who does not make all he can on what he produces, he must be suffering from consumption or some other deadly disease - in other words, he must be very near the next world. Men are all alike in this respect. On the Stock Exchange, if shares go up, a man, although he may have paid only1d. for them, will, if he can, sell them for £1,000. It is amusing to suggest a special standard of morality for people who sell things, and a different standard for people who buy things. If a man hears that gold his been struck in a mine, he rushes to the Exchange to buy shares at as low a price as possible, but he does not say to the man from whom he buys, “ I say, old fellow, I have just heard they have struck gold.”
– The deal is usually the other way.
– It is often the other way, but they are both on the gain; one trying to outwit the other. One result of increased duties invariably is that people who require articles try to get them before the duties operate; and then, following the demand for such articles, there is a raisingof prices in the same way as the prices of shares are raised on the Stock Exchange. A ship laden with woolpacks and gunny bags for the wool season foundered between Fremantle and Colombo. Are we to suppose for one moment that the holders of woolpacks and gunny bags did not in- crease the price in Australia? The worst of Tariff changes is that that sort of thing always happens. Why? Because dealers and manufacturers are only men, and the protectionist, with a 45 per cent. fence round him, will sell to the top of the fence if he can. This is no new thing. American manufacturers have made fortunes by selling their goods at exorbitant prices to Americans, being thus enabled to sell the same classes of goods dirt cheap to the foreigner. That is going on all over the world to-day. The American people gave their manufacturers protection in order to make things cheap for the American masses, but the manufacturers defraud the American people by taking full advantage of the Tariff fence, while selling cheaper to the foreigner than to their own countrymen, who keep them going. I do not think there is anything more contemptible and mean than such conduct. One of the disadvantages of these artificial Tariff arrangements is that every one tries to make something out of them. And what about the position of the merchant who has to pay the duties? If a duty of 40 per cent. be proposed, he has to pay that duty immediately, and if, in the course of the discussion, it be reduced to 20 per cent., he does not have the difference returned to him. Do not forget this other side -of the question. The man who, under pressure of business, has to pay a large duty, does not receive a penny back if the duty be reduced
– He takes, good care to sell at a price to protect himself.
– Rascality, in any shape or form, is to be condemned, but one of the effects of Tariff fences, in the experience of the world, is that manufacturers, like every one else, try to obtain as big an advantage out of the fence as they can. I should like to deal with one duty, which I think is monstrously extravagant, even from the protectionistpoint of view, namely, the duty on clothing and woollens. Woollens, as honorable members know, were fixed at 15 per cent. in the last Tariff, and,, speakingfrom memory, I believe it was understood at the time that a duty of 20 per cent. would have been accepted by the manufacturers.
– Not at all - 25 per cent.
– My recollection is as I have stated ; but let us make it 25 per cent. if the honorable member pleases.
– The woollen industry was never more flourishing than it is today.
– I cannot help observing that the pioneers of Australia have no benefactor to help them. Do not let us forget that the primary industries are the foundation of all others. Do not let us forget that the primary industries have to face the market prices of the world. There is no protection of40 per cent. for the wheat-grower, the selector, or the miner.
– Do not forget that there is a duty on sheep !
– That, no doubt, is an important matter - a sort of Excise for the benefit of the pastoral industry of Australia. But even protectionists should remember that this house of industry of ours has many people in it who require some consideration. The miners, the farmers, the selectors all over Australia have natural difficulties to contend with in the shape of droughts and floods, and have also to face low prices in the markets of the world. They are absolutely at the mercy of the world’s prices from day to’ day in competition with the coloured and poorlypaid labour of many countries. Why should we not have a little enthusiasm for men of that stamp? Why should we erect a big fence if that big fence is not wanted? From . the protectionist point of view, it has to be remembered that, worthy of encouragement as the woollen industry may be, there is one great consideration which makes it not the best for Australia, namely, that the great mass of those employed are children and young people.
– That is not correct.
– I have been through a large number of woollen mills.
– I can speak for Tasmania.
– I do not think I have been in any of the Tasmanian mills.
– Whom does the right honorable member call “young people”?
– People who would not expect men’s wages. If we take the total wages paid in the textile and apparel trades in Victoria, we find that the average wage is 16s. a week.
– For adults?
– No, for the whole of those employed, including young people. These figures show, either that there must be a large number of young people to make such an average wage, or that there is miserable sweating in progress. I do not believe there is sweating, because the woollen mills at Geelong - I saw several of them - seem to me to constitute about as fine a colonial industry as I have seen.
– Is not the textile trade under the control of a Wages Board?
– I think that it is.
– From where did the right honorable member obtain his figures?
– From the Victorian Statistician. I divided the total amount of wages paid by the number of persons engaged in this one line of industry.
– Why did not the right honorable memberbase his estimate upon the report of the Inspector of Factories ?
– Surely the figures of the Government Statistician should be good enough for me. That officer says that there are 8,000 males and 23,000 females engaged in this branch of industry. He. gives the total amount of wages, which is’ divided amongst the 31,000 persons employed in the manufacture of clothing and textile fabrics, and it works out at 16s. perweek.
– Does that estimate include tailoresses, white workers, &c. ?
– It must include them all.
– Then it is not a fair comparison, because the right honorable member is including all the women.
– It is the only comparison that I can institute, because I can only ascertain the total amount of the wages paid and the total number of workers.
– The right honorable member can obtain details from the report of the Inspector of Factories.
– The details will not alter the figures..
– The right honorable member is not basing his statement upon proper data.
– What is the use of making an assertion of that kind ?
– The figures quoted by the right honorable member include a number of girl apprentices, who receive only 2s. 6d. per week.
– That is exactly what I am saying. I say that these wages are not a picture of attractiveness for Australian labour. One of the most extraordinary features about this Tariff is that, whilst the duties levied upon woollens are 35 per cent, and 30 per cent., the duties imposed upon, velvetsare only 20 per cent. and 15 per cent. Upon furs and velvets the duty is down to 20 per cent. , but upon woollen goods - which in some portions of Australia are very necessary - the duties have been increased to 35 per cent and 30 per cent. By the. way, a grand thing has been done for two pet industries. Whilst the duties upon farming, and mining machinery have been enormously increased, there is a little schedule at the end of the Tariff which indicates that the woollen and hat mills of Australia have a number of very good friends in this House. In this connexion a wonderful arrangement has been made - an arrangement which is not intended to benefit the dairymen, the farmers, the miners, or the selectors.
– What about Nestles’ milk?
– I do not know how that article of diet agrees with the Acting Prime Minister, but the honorable gentleman ought to take a lot of it just now. Nestles’ milk is a very good food for him. Under the arrangement to which I refer, the man with a hat mill or a woollen mill will plank down his duty like everybody else, but will afterwards go to the Minister and obtain a rebate of the full amount thus paid. It is a truly wonderful arrangement. Who would not invest in a hat or woollen mill under such circumstances? This is the schedule which will be found upon page 49 of the Tariff -
Machinery, and parts thereof, used in the manufacture of fibrous materials and felt, and felt hats, when installed for use in a woollen mill or a hat factory for the manufacture of such materials, felt, and hats. Rebate - The full duty paid.
The hat and. woollen mills, which get 30 and 40 per cent, out of the people of Australia are to enjoy the benefits of freetrade in reference to their machinery. I say that this is the most disgraceful proposal ever placed before any Parliament. Surely the Government might have the pluck to tax their friends ! Why should they provide this special schedule as “a sneak out,” whilst making it appear that these manufacturers were paying the duty at the Customs House like men? There is no suggestion as to whether or not the machinery which they import can reasonably be manufactured within the Commonwealth. The moment they show the Minister that it has been imported for use in a woollen or hat mill thev are absolutely entitled to a refund of the full amount of duty paid. This arrangement shows the wonderful way in which these benefactors of industry can open one eye and shut the other pretty hard.
– Is that a “ pull over “ ?’
– It is not a “ pull over,” but it is a “ take in.” There is just one stroke of liberality which I can discern in this Tariff - it is the only article, so far as I can learn, which is not taxed. The
Government tax the wood, they tax the brass nails, and they tax the cloth used in coffins, but the coffins themselves are admitted free. Coffins are upon the free list, and I know that one will be required for this Ministry. This is protection turned upside down. The poor undertaker, if he manufactures coffins - and there is no reason why he should not - will be required to pay duty upon the wood, the nails, and the cloth. If he engages in the colonial industry of making coffins, he will be taxed right out of it. Yet if ever there was an industry which is congenial .to the soil, I think that is one.
– I suppose that in the interests of the early establishment of a crematorium, it is not proposed to encourage the manufacture of coffins.
– The worst of these things is that one cannot always tell in. whose interests they are brought forward. I. want to mention a few of the frisky increases of duty which affect the great masses of the people. I find that the duty upon biscuits - notwithstanding that there has been no demand for an increased duty on the part of the manufacturers - indeed, Mr. Arnott, one of the biggest manufacturers, declares that he does not want the duty, and nobody has been more successful than he has - has been increased by 50 per cent., that upon blue by 100 per cent., paraffine wax by 150 per cent., candles by 50 per cent., fish by 50 per cent., currants by 50 per cent., dates by 100 per cent., vegetables by 100 per cent., potato flour by 300 per cent., corn flour by 300 per cent., jams by 33 per cent., matches by 250 per cent., meats by 100 per cent., condensed milk - sweetened - by 125 per cent., mustard by 50 per cent., starch by 25 per cent., and starch flour by 400 per cent. In articles of apparel, woollen or silk, there has been an increase upon the old duties of 80 per cent., and upon the commonest kinds there is an increase of 60 per cent. The duty upon blankets has been increased by 100 per cent., that upon carpets by 33 per cent, tents and tarpaulins by 300 per cent., furs by 40 per cent., gloves by 50 per cent., perfumery by 60 per cent., socks, woollen and silk, by 100 per cent., and .cotton by 150 per cent. Then I find that the impost upon dungarees and moleskins has been increased by 100 per cent., whilst that upon silks has been advanced by only 33 per cent.
– What does the right honorable member say ?
– I am giving the rates of increase upon the old duties. Even in respect of the rate of British preferential duty, there has been an increase of too per cent. as compared with the former rate. There is an article called denim, which is used for overalls by railway hands, navvies, and artisans. Whilst the duty upon woollens has been increased by 100 per cent., that upon denim has been increased by 500 per cent.
– That is not the denim that is used by artisans.
– No; it is a denim which is palmed off as woollen tweed.
– At any rate, honorable members cannot juggle with this line “Cotton, Dungaree, Moleskins,” 100 per cent. increase on the general Tariff.
– That is a misleading way of putting the case.
– The Postmaster-General may say that the present duty is double the old rate, just for musical effect, if he pleases.
– The same duty as formerly operated is imposed upon dungarees. What is the use of juggling with figures? Mr. REID. - Is this the Tariff of the honorable member for South Sydney, because, if it is, it will go through?
– The position should not be misrepresented.
– I am glad that the honorable member is in earnest at last. If he has been working up this Tariff-
– I have been looking into it since it was introduced, but evidently the right honorable member has not looked into it as fully as he might have done.
– Still I must be allowed to express my view even here. I repeat that, cottons, dungarees, and moleskins show an increase of 100 per cent. on the general Tariff, whereas the duty upon silks has been increased by only 33 per cent. There is a grand proposal for the honorable member to take to the working men of South Sydney.
– The working men of South Sydney will get British moleskins at the same price as they formerly obtained them. They do not want German moleskins.
– Theduty upon British moleskins has been increased.
Mr.REID. - Then the Government have given a real preference to the old country at last. I am obliged to the honorable member for directing my attention to it. How much does . that preference represent?
– According to the right honorable member, it represents 100 per cent.
– That is splendid. I object to this abjectly mean business of going to the British people and saying, “We have built half the arch, you build the other half, and drop the keystone in, and we will have a perfect union between the mother country and Australia through the medium of this Tariff.” Notwithstanding that this Tariff, with very few exceptions, doubles the rate of duty previously imposed, a message was despatched by the Prime Minister to England announcing that it represented “ the first step in a great and effective measure of preference” to the mother- country. What is the Government giving us? The British people must have an extraordinary idea of the cheek of Australians. I would like to quote what a strong Unionist newspaper - an advocate of preferential trade - says upon this question in discussingthe visit of our Prime Minister and the present Treasurer. The Daily Graphic writes -
The idea that there ever was a possibility of a concession on the Tariff question is the rankest hypocrisy, and we are amazed that men of intelligence like the Colonial Premiers should have been taken in by it. However much we may sympathize with preferences it would be idle and dishonest topretend, after the last general election, that the nation is disposed to consider them. In egging on the Colonies to intimidate the Liberals and Free-traders in the mothercountry the authors of this campaign have simply driven a double wedge into that fabric of Empire which ever since 1843 has, by its own internal elements of sympathy and patriotism, been pursuing unhindered so happy and successful a process of unification and consolidation. They have sown distrust of the Imperial connexion in the Colonies, and they have created irritation and stimulated Little Englandism at home. This is an achievement which our pseudo-Imperialists will one day bitterlyregret. Of the indecency with which some of the Colonial visitors have abetted these proceedings we prefer not to speak. We, at least, cannot forget that they are still our guests.
That is theway in which an influential Unionist, preferential trade newspaper describes speeches delivered by Colonial Ministers - active political speeches, intended to bring the Tories of England into power. Two members of a Commonwealth Ministry, kept in power by the Labour Party, go to the oldcountry to buttress up the prospects of the Tories of England, and to bring about the imposition of a tax by which the British landlord hopes to increase the value of his land ! That is the first object of a preferential duty on wheat so far as Australia is concerned, and the landlords in Great Britain will desire to be treated in the same way. A preferential duty cannot be given to Australian farmers and an advantage withheld from English farmers. Even an Australian Government might consider that it would not be right to do otherwise. Here we have the spectacle of an Australian Government, kept in power by the Labour Party, strengthening the political fortunes of the reactionaries of the mother country - to use a favorite expression - in order to bring about the success of- a conspiracy to tax the bread of the people’ there just as it was taxed fifty or one hundred years ago. Who would derive the benefit of. a tax on bread? Would it not be the farmers of England, Scotland, and Ireland? New Zealand comes out of the ordeal with infinitely more credit than we unfortunately do. When Lord Tweedmouth asked Sir Joseph Ward what he had to say about the Naval Agreement, he replied, “ We will stand by the Agreement we have made honestly, and, if necessary, we will pay more.” That was the attitude of New Zealand. What is her attitude in respect of the Tariff? Only a few months ago the whole of the Tariff of New Zealand was remodelled, and I propose, to put before honorable members a list of duties in operation there, in order to show how the primary industries are treated. Under the Tariff now before us, the general duty on mining machinery and engines is increased 280 per cent., whilst Ihe duty on mining machinery and engines coming from the United Kingdom is increased 100 per cent. The duty on agricultural machinery is now ro per cent., instead of free, and in the case of “Machinery, n.e.i.,” which covers a multitude of implements, it is increased 60 per cent. In the case of electrical machinery imported, from Great Britain, the duty is increased by 100 per cent.; whilst the duty on such imports coming from other countries has been increased 240 per cent. Marine engines and boilers are subject to an increased dutv of 100 per cent. , and fishing, nets and netting, which were previously free, are now dutiable at 20 per cent. 5
– As a matter of fact, the increase is 12
– That is exactly what 100 per cent, means in this case. Would not the honorable member rejoice if he could secure a real increase of 100 per cent, on some items? He would soon add another story to his shop.
– The right honorable member is wrong. It would be of no ad-, vantage- to me. ‘ .
– Let us consider for a>moment the effect- of . the duty on fishing, nets. ‘ The item- relates to a class of men who live from hand to mouth; who from time to time go -out on the ocean in the hope of securing a haul. If there is a class which might be regarded somewhat kindly by those who. live in cities it is the fishermen. No one can say that they make fortunes. We all know the humble position they occupy and the discomforts to which they are exposed. And yet, even the fishermen’s nets and netting, which were free under the old Tariff, are now dutiable at 20 per cent. Is the Committee going to sympathize with such a departure? I think that honorable members will begin] to inquire what employment this duty is likely to provide in Australia. . .
– What about the hatmaking machinery? . .
– In the case of hat-making machinery a rebate might be granted, but there is no hope for the fisherman, and his nets. For the Denton Hat Mills something may be done, but for the fishermen of Australia nothing ! I come now to duties affecting the pastoral industries. The old duties on tanning and scouring implements and artesian bores have been increased 100 per cent. Wire netting, which was previously free, is, in the case of British imports, subject to a duty of 25 per cent., while imports from other countries are dutiable at 30 per cent. This is an item, which affects the people engaged in fighting one of the most gigantic pests that ever threatened to undermine the greatest of our industries. The pastoral industry of Australia is the very basis of our pro. sperity and wealth. It is rapidly passing from the large to the small, and from the small to the smaller, land-owner. The people engaged in this industry have’ to struggle against droughts so terrible that the Acting Prime Minister told us a year or two ago that electors in many country districts had been forced to forsake their holdings and enter the cities. That was his excuse for rigging the electoral rolls.
– Not an excuse.
– It was a rotten excuse, or, perhaps, it was a mistake. We find the Government choosing a time when our pioneers are battling with their destroyers to put a duty on wire netting. This is a nice time to impose such a duty. Ten or eleven years ago, when I proposed to remove the duty on wire netting in New South Wales, I was told that the wirenetting factory there would be ruined. The owner appealed to me, saying, “Save us.” But I replied, “ I think you will manage to pull along.” He has been going strongly ever since without the assistance of any duty.
– Then take the duty off again.
– That is a matter which the Committee will have to consider. We. free-traders are not in a position to have much say in regard to such items. It is for the protectionists to take the responsibility of the Tariff ; we cannot do so. I wish now to show how the farmers of New Zealand, who are our competitors in respect of frozen meat and produce of various kinds, are treated. Ne.w Zealand is a protectionist country, and has a protectionist Premier. Among the ad valorem duties there is only one 40 per cent, item in the New Zealand. Tariff. Some men order their clothes from the old country, and New Zealand has imposed a duty of 40 per cent, on clothes so imported. But on apparel .generally, in the ordinary sense of the term, the duties do not go beyond 20 or 25 per cent.
– The duty on ordered clothing ought to be 60 per cent, if we” could ‘single out such items.
– There would be no objection to that. A man who orders his clothes from. England would not feel any duty we might impose upon them. Let us look at the New Zealand Tariff, in order to see how machinery is dealt with. We find that there are special 5- per cent, machinery duties, and that in many other cases there is a duty of 20 per cent. A 5 per cent. Tariff is a revenue one. Flour-milling, refrigerating, dredging, woollen-mill, papermill, rope and twine-making, oil refining, oil boring, meat preserving, and leather splitting machinery are dutiable at 5 per cent.
– The Trades and Labour Council have Just asked for an increased duty.
– That is a very good conservative proposition, worthy of the House of Lords. We can well imagine how- theHouse of Lords would increase the duty on corn if they could do so. It is interesting to glance at a Tariff framed by protectionists in an Australian State - with whose products we have to compete in the markets of the world - and to see how machinery affecting pioneering industries is treated under it. New Zealand deals with such machinery in a benevolent, encouraging manner. I hope there will be some endeavour to modify the severity of our duties, as they affect the general consumers of Australia and the pioneer industries of the country. I have before me a pamphlet issued by the Minister of Trade and Customs the day before the introduction of the Tariff, and relating to machine tools and tools of trade. About three pages are devoted to machine tools, and three and a-half pages to tools of trade that are placed on the free list, but I can find in* the list only one machine tool which bears the remotest reference to a large industry - shearing machines, which are free. The bulk of the tools of trade are free for the artisans, but not for the miners and others engaged in the pioneer industries of Australia. There is . a big duty placed upon articles which are made in our factories, and many of the tools used in them are free. It seems to me that a want of consideration for our mining and pioneer industries is shown. Among the curiosities of the Tariff I find - and this is not a subject for levity - that a duty is placed on infants’ food. As we know, in thousands of homes, where the mother is a delicate woman, it is of the greatest importance, in order that the children may be strengthened, that a certain quantity of food, which most closely approximates to their natural nourishment shall be available. Such foods might well be placed on the free list.
– And be manufactured by the Government, so that their purity may be insured.
– That is a suggestion which I hope the honorable member will not lose sight of when we proceed to deal with the Tariff item by item. The Government manufacture a good many things.
– Are not manufacturers of infants’ food in other countries proposing to establish works here ?
– I hope so. When they do start here they will not forget that there is a fence around- them. Surely infants generally might be spared a. duty on perambulators. There is a heavy duty on such articles.
– Does the right- honorable gentleman mean to say that we cannot make perambulators?
– We can make anything in Australia, provided that we can charge enough. It is only a matter of money, and after all, that is of no account to those who are going to collar the money. Brimstone and treacle - with which I used to be familiar in my young days - are in the heavy duty list. Bridal sets are also taxed. I do not know what is the meaning of the item, but I think we might encourage people about to marry a little better than that. If by any chance a man should change his ideas on the question of infant baptism, and join the Baptist Church, he will be singled out for a duty. There is a special duty on baptizing and wading pants. Even the Baptist Church cannot escape. As for tombstones, there is a heavy duty upon them, and even the little tributes that are laid on graves, in the shape of immortelles, are subject to a duty. Coffins, however, can be brought in free. It is only fair, perhaps, that when one is approaching a state from which one will emerge into an atmosphere of freedom, that some of the means of reaching that atmosphere should be free. But what has the undertaker done that he should not enlist the sympathies of the Acting Prime Minister, the most gigantic undertaker in Australia? Why should not the coffin manufacturer have a certain measure of protection? Was the item overlooked? I come now to the question of preference. Not one duty has been reduced in favour of the mother country. When the deputy leader of the Opposition asked the Acting Prime Minister the other day whether a solitary duty had been reduced in favour of the mother country he received such replies as : “ I do not know,” “lam not sure,” “I cannot give a definite answer.” That represents the state of mind of the Government on the question of preference. Ministers used every shred of rhetoric and oratory in its advocacy in the mother country - praying all the time that the Home Government would not assent - but when, on coming back, they find themselves in a position .to do the old country a good turn in. connexion with the reconstruction, of the Australian Tariff, there is no sign of “a reduction in a single duty operating against the mother country. There are increases over and over again, and I admit that in some instances the difference between the rates on British exports and those on foreign exports may, incidentally, be of service to. the mother country. But, taking the Tariff as a whole, there is a great difference between the oratory to which Ministers treated the British people when in England, and the practical concession which they are now giving to them. What is the use of the Prime Minister saying that this is the first step in the direction of preferential trade with the mother country ? Would it not be dishonest to try to induce manufacturers to enter upon industries on the faith of this Tariff, if it were intended to seriously alter it within a year or two in order to make a reciprocal arrangement of duties with the mother country? Let us treat our men of industry fairly, by giving stability in connexion with the Tariff. Of course, if Parliament pushes matters to an extreme, there will not be stability. If the Tariff is not justified by the sentiments and feelings of the people, no fiscal settlement will have been secured by passing it. But if we make a modest and decent job of it, there is no reason why we should not have stability, and that is what- manufacturers and merchants desire. They do not wish to be made the sport of politicians at election times. The free expansion of industry is impossible without the basis of certainty. Protectionists who remember that will render the best service to the development of Australian industries. These industries cover a wide range. Some persons never think of the term “ industry “ without thinking of manufacture. To them “ industry” means only- manufacturing. But it has a broader, wider, and nobler meaning. Those who wish to make this a proper protectionist Tariff should not_lose sight of the substantial interests of the great industries of Australia other than the manufacturing industries. I come now to the new protection, which the Acting Prime Minister could not have had much in his mind when delivering his Budget, because he forgot then to mention it. I look upon the action of my honorable friends below the gangway in support of what is called the “ new protection “ as absolutely proper and sound. What is the basis upon which the people of Australia are willing to bear these burdens, though the rates of duty may be varied? We know what has happened in America. We know the result of the high Tariff there. Any attempt to us* this Tariff to sweat labour in order to inflate profits will be an outrage upon the policy of protection as properly understood.
– We have said so for over thirty years past.
– And it will be . another century before the Minister will be prepared with a practical scheme. I wish to give the Labour Party credit for the new protection movement. If they had not brought it forward, the Ministry would not have had anything to propose for a century to come.
– No one wishes to rob the Labour Party of the credit due to it.
– The Labour Party deserves credit for having brought this matter to the front in practical politics. But those who have been engaged in its consideration must have felt themselves confronted with any number of difficulties. Let me mention one. The price of an article is not the’ only thing with which the public are concerned; there is its quality also to be considered. When in New South Wales the late Sir George Dibbs brought in his first 10 per cent. Tariff, I met one of the big importers, and asked him about its operation. He said, “ We can increase prices, and thus recover the amount of the duty on some lines, but there are other lines on which we cannot do so, because the quotations for them are practically cast iron.” By way of illustration, he mentioned moleskin trousers, saying that the workers had for many years been accustomed to pay a fixed price for such garments, and that if it were increased there would be no end of trouble. I asked him, “ Are you, then, going to pay the duty on moleskin trousers?” “ No,” he replied, *’ I am not. I have cabled to my English manufacturers, asking them to reduce the quality of the moleskins supplied to me, so that I may be able to sell at a figure which will enable me to pay the duty and have something over for myself without increasing the price to the ultimate purchasers.” No doubt when the workmen bought their moleskin trousersthey said to themselves, “ What fools these free-traders are. We have been toldby them that the duties would increase the prices of what we bought ; but we are getting moleskins now at the prices at which we have always purchased’ them.” The price was not raised, but thequality was very seriously diminished. Honorable members cannot expect those who are in business to pay duties out of their own pockets ; they will always pass them on to their customers. That. is the natural incidence with all Tariffs. One of the troubles in carrying out an intelligent system such as honorable members have in view is the magnitude and the number of difficulties caused by the complexity of the questions to be considered. An article may be cheap if its quality is good although its price is high, and it may be dear if its quality is bad even though its price is low. In this connexion the Acting Prime Minister jumps at the chance of creating another Department. He says, “ Let us have anInterstate Commission.” There are several people waiting for these billets. They have been waiting for years.
– That is not true.
– I do not wish to be personal, but I may safely say that I never knew of a billet for which there were not persons waiting. Amongst other duties the Inter-State Commission could deal with the problem of how best to enforce the newprotection. Any sensible arrangement which will carry out theobject of that movement will have my hearty support in every way ; but let us have a sensible system which will only check what ought to be checked. We must remember that the Australian manufacturer is as much entitled as any other manufacturer to a fair profit on his enterprise. It must not be thought that I wish to deprive him of a fair and honest return on his capital. To do so would be to rob him as much as it would be to rob the worker to deprive him of fair wages.
– The right honorable member wishes to protect the workers as well as the manufacturers.
– Yes, and that I understand, to be the object of the policy to which I am referring. Thousands of our poor people are consenting to this taxation, not to enable manufacturers to exploit them, but because they feel that they are encouraging the planting of seeds of industry which may grow into grand trees, which will shelter the future labour of Australia. The ambition is a grand one. No one can help acknowledging that. The only question is which is the bestway to encourage our industries. The difference between free-traders and protectionists is not that the former wish to retard Australian industries, while the latter wish to assist them. We all wish to see Australian industries expand, to see industrial plants thrive; but we differ as to. the method of encouraging them. Some of us ‘ think that artificial forcing cultiva? tion will not produce- the healthy plants which will grow in the open air, and that we should consider the great primary industries which have nature working hand in hand with them, enabling Australian labour to compete in all the markets of the world, rather than those industries in which Australian labour must compete with the slum labour of other countries. Free-traders hold these views, but I trust that they are not deficient in patriotism. If protection will, without placing unfair burdens on the people, really expand the sphere of Australian industry, and create sound industrial growth, I am sure that no one will be more pleased than the free-traders that that has come about. But I hope that honorable members, in their desire to carry out a protectionist policy, will not forget the interests of the masses who are struggling upon our lands, and who have no protection to increase the prices of their products, but have to meet the urgent battles of competition in the most severe form. Not only have they to send their goods across the oceans of the world to meet the competition of the producers of other nations, but they must also battle against nature in her unkindest moods. If we put these great primary industries on a sound and lasting foundation, the other industries also cannot help thriving.
– I make no complaint about the manner in which the leader of the Opposition has dealt with this subject. If I may be allowed to say so, he has dealt with it much more temperately to-day than I have known him to deal with it before. I was very pleased to hear him frankly admit that Australia has decided for a protective policy, and that it is not his intention to factiously oppose the passing of a protectionist Tariff.
– Were the members of the Labour Party returned as protectionists ?
– A number of them were.
– The majority of us were. We all spoke on the subject.
– I believe that they were returned after giving expression to their fiscal views, as well as to their views on other subjects. The right honorable member for East. Sydney referred almost gibingly to the statements of the Prime Minister and myself in the old country in regard to the Naval Agreement, and I do not think he acted quite fairly to the Prime Minister, seeing that the honor able gentleman is absent. As for myself, I do not so much mind, because I am in a position to answer criticism. Had it not been for the illness of the Prime Minister,’ he would probably have already explained the action which he took in regard to this subject at the Imperial Conference and elsewhere in Great Britain.
– Surely Ministers came to a decision on the question before the honorable gentleman and the Prime Minister went Home ? The subject was one of those on the business paper of the Conference.
– Unfortunately, I had not an opportunity to consult the Cabinet or the Prime Minister on this subject before leaving for England. I went away very hurriedly a fortnight or three weeks before the Prime Minister left. What was done in Great Britain was done largely by the Prime Minister. I know that he has very strong views on the subject of naval defence, and, as I said when asked a question , some time ago, he desires to deal with it from his own stand-point.
– Is the Government in favour of terminating the Naval Agreement ? That is a simple question.
– The right honorable member should ask me something easy.
– That is the Minister’s answer, although the Government put the subject on the business paper of the Imperial Conference?
– I leave this matter for the Prime Minister to deal with as he desires. In consequence of his illness, I have put , £200,000 on the Estimates this year for the payment of our annual contribution, because that is the course which I think he would have taken. It will be impossible to cancel the agreement this year; it probably cannot be done next year. In any case, the agreement has only a few years to run.
– Five years. It expires in 1912,
– I believe the honorable member for Coolgardie was quite right when he interjected that no doubt some suggestion was made by the Admiralty before a suggestion was made by the Prime Minister.
– I do not think that that is so.
– Does not the Acting Prime Minister know that Lord Tweedmouth has stated that the official view of the Admiralty is set forth in the report upon Captain Creswell’s proposals?
– I have not studied the question of defence” so very carefully . as the honorable member has done.
– The honorable member’s memory cannot be so bad that he does not remember that.
– The suggestion for the cancellation of the naval agreement came from Australia, not from the English authorities.
– I do not know that that is so. The honorable member for Swan may have had a conversation with the Prime Minister on the subject, but as to that I am not aware.
– I have had many.
– The honorable member wrote a minute four or five years ago, and the suggestion may have been made in connexion with it.
– That was long before the Naval Agreement.
– It was four years ago.
– It was six years ago.
– I. do not know the exact date. The right honorable member for Swan may have had conversations on the subject with the Prime Minister ; but what I knew was mainly from what occurred in- England. At the present moment, the Prime Minister has asked me specially to leave this matter for his consideration; and, therefore, I am not to blame for not dealing with it.
– I do not make any complaint on that score, but merely point out that the Acting Prime Minister, after his communications with the Imperial Government, apparently does not intend to stand by the arrangement.
– The Prime Minister may do what he said he desired to do.
– The Prime . Minister probably will ; I think he will be consistent.
– The Prime Minister at present is in such a state of health that I do not care to worry him about a matter of this kind ; and, therefore, it will be seen that I am not in such an advantageous position as I should be if J were free to act for myself.
– I know that the proposal did not come from the Imperial Government.
– The right honorable member may be quite right in that statement ; but I never heard discussion on the matter before I reached England. The right honorable member for East Sydney referred to the attitude of the Government regarding the Braddon section and the Brisbane Conference of Premiers. All I can say is that T never knew the Braddon section to be under the consideration of the Cabinet, or any decision to be arrived at yet.
– Oh, yes.
– I never agreed to the proposal which has been mentioned.
– It was put forward on behalf of the Government, with the approval of the Prime Minister, and it was before the Cabinet. ‘
– The right honorable member for Swan and the Prime. Minister may have had conversations regarding the proposal, but I know nothing about that.
– It was before the Cabinet.
– Not when I was there, I think. I never agreed to the proposal. I was always against any idea of extending the full operation of the section beyond the ten years. I regard the continuance of the section as absurd and impossible unless taxation be raised in some other way.
– No one is in favour of extending the operation of the section as it stands; I should not be.
– I thought the right honorable member was going to support the extension of the section?
– Not at all ; but I see a great deal in what the right honorable member for Swan proposed. I do not wish, however, to express an absolute opinion on that proposal at the present time.
– Seeing that we have been compelled to use all but a small proportion of the balance beyond the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, I do not see how it will be possible, without additional revenue, to carry out other proposals which have been made involving large expenditure. The Commonwealth has . taken over States Departments, and has to make payments which the States previously made, and all that has to be done out of the one-fourth of the revenue, .whilst the three-fourths continue to go to the States. That is the cause of the trouble which exists to-day.
– There never would have been Federation if the three-fourths of the revenue had not been secured to the States.
– I happen to know something about the determinations of the Federal Convention, and the honorable member is wide of the mark.
– The honorable member for Indi is quite right.
– In the Federal Convention I proposed another method, which I thought better, but in the last week the late Sir Edward Braddon introduced his proposal, and it was carried.
– My proposals were submitted at Melbourne and Brisbane on behalf of the Government. The Prime Minister, with myself, put them forward at Melbourne; and, with his concurrence in writing, I submitted them at Brisbane, on behalf of the Government.
– I ought to have time to work out these problems according to my lights; but I have had no opportunity, owing to the hurried preparation of the Budget, when I did in five or six days work which usually occupies five or six weeks. So far as I can judge, however, the proposals made by the right honorable member for Swan are not practicable.
– They have been ap. proved by the Prime Minister and the Government.
– By the Prime Minister, perhaps ; but I do not know about the Government. However, I have no desire to haggle over the question, but merely wish to state, fairly and straightforwardly, what my opinion is.
– The Prime Minister himself submitted the proposal at Melbourne.
– It will be for the Cabinet to deal with any suggestions I have to make in the future; and I hope it will not be long before my suggestions are made.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister going to repudiate what the Prime Minister has done?
– I am not doing anything of the kind. The right Honorable member for East Sydney twitted the Government with having only a certain number of supporters, and urged that there ought to be a majority of the Housein favour of the Ministry. If the Government find that there is not a majority in favour of the measures which they submit they will very soon give place to other Ministers.
– They will jolly well have to!
– I do not think so ; at any rate, I am quite satisfied the Government will not have to give place to those sitting in opposition, or those in the Opposition corner. Did the right honorable member for East Sydney, when he was speaking to-night, remember that in New South Wales he was kept in office for five years by the Labour Party, whose support he accepted?
– We had sympathetic views; and I accepted the support in order to carry out my own policy.
– When the leader of the Opposition is good again, we shall support him again.
– The leader of the Opposition will never be “ good “ again.
– And when the Acting Prime Minister and his colleagues get “ bad,” out they go again !
– We shall not get “bad.” I should like to say a word or two in regard to the pessimistic views expressed by the right honorable member for East Sydney in regard to the present position of Australia. For instance, he spoke of the working of boys in woollen mills; but, as to that, I think he is absolutely wrong. The right honorable gentleman also indulged in dreadful prophecies when he spoke of the necessity for revenue ; and, I think, in those remarks the right honorable gentleman showed more than ever the necessity there is for true protection. What my colleagues, especially the Minister of Trade and Customs, and myself, desire, is to submit a Tariff as nearly perfectly protective as possible. It has been stated, over and over again, by freetraders, as well as protectionists, that a Tariff is desired which will stand. Can it be imagined for a moment that a Tariff which is not protective will stand - that a Tariff which is only a revenue Tariff will stand? No; there would be renewed and continued agitation for a protective Tariff later.
– Does the Acting Prime Minister think that the proposed Tariff would stand if it be passed as it is now ?
– I think that in regard to its general principles it would.
– Will the Tariff pass as it is now?
– In its main principles, yes.
– What about the figures?
– The Acting Prime Minister is the most sanguine man in the House !
– I am a san guine man ; but if we cannot get more than a revenue Tariff, I am willing to give place to some one else.
– We have never had a revenue Tariff yet.
– The Tariff, which has just been superseded, was practically a revenue Tariff.
– And even that was much higher than the Acting Prime Minister wished for six years ago.
– That is not correct. The honorable member ought to know that all my life I have desired a protective Tariff, and not merely a revenue Tariff. Australia has the greatest, possibilities of any country in the world. She has more latent power and resources, and greater scope for the development of industries - she has the raw material to a greater extent than any country to which we can point. When Federation took place, the only really, self-contained State was the protective State of Victoria, while the free-trade State of New South Wales was the least self-contained.
Mr.PAGE. - New South Wales seemed to get on very well !
– The spending of borrowed money was that which gave the appearance of prosperity to New South Wales. Railways and other public works were developed by means of loans ; and the apparent prosperity continued so long as the loan expenditure continued. When the time came, however, for that expenditure to be reduced - and the reduction was commenced by the late Sir Henry Parkes - then came the pinch, and there followed financial trouble. Victoria, on the other hand, showed herself to be a country so self-contained, that the people could support themselves even if they were cut off from the rest of the world.
– All the same, Victoria went through five or six years of the hardest times in Australia.
– And if Victoria had not been a protective country she would have suffered more. The next best selfcontained State at the advent of Federation was South Australia, and, of course, she had the next highest protective Tariff to that of Victoria. There seems to be some reason for the feeling of gratification that in this great Commonwealth of Australia, with its huge area, it is possible toadopt a’ policy which will result in giving workto our own people, instead of importing foreign goods from other parts of the world to the extent we do now.
– We shall not adopt such a policy by putting a ring fence round Australia.
– Yes we shall, to a certain extent. I should like to point out to the right honorable member for East Sydney that there is no increased duty on the bulk of cotton goods, except in the case of the foreigner. When we are dealing with the details of the Tariff it will be found that there are but slight increases of duty in the case of Great Britain, although there are substantial increases of duty against the foreigner. I venture to think that honorable members will assist the Government in imposing duties on foreign goods, so as to stop the wholesale depredation that the foreigner is carrying on in regard to the people of Australia to-day.
– Are the duties not all intended to encourage local production?
– As far as possible. Where we have the raw material it is our duty to encourage local production; and the people have so determined.
– How can we, at the same time, help the British manufacturer and protect ourown manufacturer?
– We protect our own manufacturer against the whole world, up to a certain point, and against the foreigner to a greater extent. There is plenty of room, as between the two sets of duties, to assist the British manufacturer and to keep out the goods of foreign countries.
– That is not the opinion of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.
– I know that; and I have sent a telegram to Lord Elgin stating that we cannot comply with the requests of that chamber.
– Neither is it the view of the consumer.
– I do not think the consumer says much about the matter. The right honorable member for East Sydney spoke of the charges made by retailers on articles which have paid no duty. It has been said that retailers are doubling or quadrupling the amount of the duties on goods which are really of Australian manufacture, and that such acts cannot be described as otherwise than criminal.
– What I said was that, if retailers made a false pretence, such as had been represented to me, they were committing a criminal offence.
– In those cases, the articles for which the high prices were charged were dutiable.
– As I proved in Sydney the other night, these charges hadbeen made, in a number of cases, on goods which are not dutiable.
– That is a dishonest act.
– I quite agree with the right honorable member.
– The local manufacturer will be sure to put up his prices whenever he gets a chance to do so.
– I regret that whenever there has been a disturbance of the Tariff this sort of thing has taken place. I feel satisfied that, when the last Tariff was introduced, prices were raised to as great an extent, proportionately, as they have been upon the present occasion. A week before the introduction of the Tariff I obtained from a numberof retailers copies of their price lists, and I also secured a copy of their price lists a week after the Tariff was submitted. I did the same thing before and after the introduction of the old Tariff. Upon that occasion I found that the lists before the Tariff was introduced reflected normal prices, but after it had been submitted prices jumped up enormously. Four months later, however, they were lower than they had been prior to the introduction of the Tariff. The same thing will happen again. Honorable members will find that whenever protective duties exercise the effect which they are intended’ to exercise, whenever they stimulate Australian development, prices will be lower five or six months after their imposition than they were before the Tariff was introduced.
– How can Australian labour be paid well if prices come down? . Who will be paving that labour?
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- I may tell the right honorable member that all my clothes are made of Australian wool, and vet Ipay about £1 less for them than I should be required to pay for imported material manufactured by the cheap labour of Great Britain.. The principle underlying the policy of protection is that if we giveour people a greater amount of work todo-if we provide- them with a larger output- they can afford to accept smaller profits, because they are kept out of their capital for a shorter period than would otherwise be the case. That is the reason why we can get goods manufactured in Australia - although we pay higher wages - at a lower price than that at which imported goods can be purchased.
An Honorable Member. - That is an exploded theory.
– It is not.
– If that be so, why not increase the duty by 100 per cent., because we could not possibly have it too high?
– I do not know whether it would be wise to increase the duty by 100 per cent., and I will tell the right honorable member why. There is no doubt that, until the Tariff is in proper working ‘ order, prices may be raised, but when once we have secured an expansion of trade, prices will come down.
– The increased duties will be paid by the consumer.
– If the honorable member had his way he would have in Australia every blackfellow from Africa, to say nothing of labour from Japan and other places.
– He does not like black labour. He has emphatically said so.
– In regard to some of the articles to which the right honorable member has referred, I want to point out that the Tariff, though a protective one, must yield an increased revenue during the current year. I feel that this Tariff, if passed in anything like its present form, will not, in two or three years’ time, produce the revenue which it will yield now. Mr. Reid. - The Acting Prime Minister does not desire it to do so.
– I do not say that it should be carried in exactly its present form, but I will not be a party to passing a wishy-washy Tariff, which will confer no good upon anybody, and which will merely yield revenue. I want to obtain a Tariff - and in this I am sure I shall receive the support of the House - Of which Australia may be proud.
– At Cootamundra the honorable gentleman said the same thing of the last Tariff.
– I did not, and I denied the statement at the time.
– This is the first occasion upon which I have heard the statement denied by the honorable gentleman,, and, ofcourse.Imustaccept his denial. .
-Ihave made the statement in this Chamber many times.
I wish to secure an effective Tariff ; I will not be unduly stubborn in reference to some of its items, because it may contain anomalies, and where these can be pointed out I shall not be absolutely wedded to the schedule.But upon the principle of a protective Tariff I intend to take my stand, and I am sure that the House will support me in that attitude. The right honorable member for East Sydney referred to wire netting.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister take his stand upon that item ? I defy him to do so.
– I wish to tell honorable members what I have learned within the last day or two. In New South Wales there is a wire-netting factory, which is producing 200 miles of wire netting per week. In a few months it will be producing 300 miles of wire netting per week, and at the end of the current year it will be able to produce 600 miles weekly, which is practically sufficient to satisfy the whole requirements of Australia.
– Oh no.
– Let the right honorable member workthematter out for himself. This wire netting is superior to the imported article, notwithstanding that our manufacturers pay proper wages to their employes.
– They do not.
– Then we shall compel them to do so. I hold in my hand a list from Messrs. Lysaght Bros., showing that their tender for wire netting which the New South Wales Government have taken by force from the Customs authorities was very little higher than that which the Government accepted. Messrs. Lysaght Bros, can produce the quantity I have mentioned, and I believe that they are producing it at the present moment.
– Without the aid of any protective duty ?
– I do not know whether there was a duty upon it prior to the introduction of the present Tariff. Certainly the industry was started under the operation of a protective duty, which the right honorable member for East Sydney abolished.
– No, I purchased wire netting from Messrs. Lysaght Bros, twenty years ago.
– The industry was given an impetus in New South Wales under the Dibbs Tariff, which imposed a it duty of 15 per cent. upon wire netting. The right honorable member for East” Sydney abolished that duty, and the industry has scarcely existed since owing to foreign competition.
– It is chiefly German wire netting which is imported.
– Yes; and it is brought in at a ridiculously low rate. I will not dwell upon this aspect of the matter, and I decline to accept the challenge of the leader of the Opposition to stand or fall by a 30 per cent. duty upon the item. But I maintain that there must be an effective duty. By means of the “new protection,” we hope to see that the public are not fleeced by the manufacturers. I shall heartily welcome suggestions, either from the Labour Party or any other section of the House, which will be of assistance to me in devising a method to protect alike employes and consumers, which may be less cumbersome than that which we adopted when we passed the Bill relating to the Excise upon stripper-harvesters.
– The only effective method is for the Commonwealth to obtain control of industrial legislation.
– I think that there is a very great deal in that suggestion. I have not yet received the proposals which I understand have been framed by a Committee of the Labour Party, but I do not think that the imposition of Excise duties is the best method of securing protection to the employes in any industry. I have in my mind the appointment of a Board of Trade or InterState Commission, composed of persons who understand this question. This Board, I think, should be given power to deal with the matter, not only as regards the wages to be paid, but as to the charges which shall be made by the manufacturers. If honorable members will cast their minds back, they will recollect that the year before last we compelled the manufacturers to pay proper wages and to reduce the price of stripper-harvesters from£84 to £75 during the first year, to£70 during the second year, and to£65 during this year. Consequently, the farmers - despite the duty - are getting their harvesters and other machinery to-day much cheaper than when there was a combine-
– And there is statutory warrant for the price being retained in future at£65.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Does the honorable member think that the machines manufactured will be as good as they were?
– Why are the Government increasing the duty upon harvesters ?
– When I brought forward the Tariff proposals last year, I proposed a duty of £18 upon each machine.
– No, the honorable gentleman’s proposal was for a duty of £16.
– At any rate, the duty was reduced to £12. We have now advanced it to £16. Recently I received a deputation from manufacturers, who requested me .to alter the conditions of the existing Act, so that they would not be obliged to sell their machines during the current year at £65. They stated that they were not able to do it. I replied that I could not accede to their request. They complained of the wholesale importations which are going on despite the duty imposed by the Tariff, and I have consequently increased that duty to £16 per machine, with a view to preventing the increase of importations.
– Who would not pour tales into the honorable gentleman’s ear?
– I am giving the honorable member the reasons for my action.
– We ought to see what the importations have been.
– That information will be easy to obtain.
– The local manufacturers are selling their machines at a far higher price than they can command in the Argentine.
– I am talking about Australia, and not of the Argentine. I stand for Australia, and not for the foreigner.
– Why should Australians pay more for their machines than the people of the Argentine?
– As a result of the action of the Government, the price of these machines has been reduced from £84 to £65. Yet, when I assessed the value of the machines for Customs purposes at £65, some persons declared that I was doing a highly improper thing. The right honorable member . referred rather facetiously to the way in which coffins are treated under the Tariff, declaring that they were free. As a matter of fact, there is a duty qf 30 per cent, om coffins coming from Great Britain, and of 40 per cent, on those coming from other countries.
– How many coffins were imported last year?
– I have not the slightest idea.
– The Acting Prime Minister can guarantee the honorable member a political coffin at the next general election.
– The honorable member may then obtain one, although I do not wish him any ill. I am. endeavouring very briefly to deal with the statements made by the leader of the Opposition. The right honorable member spoke of a number of articles in a way that, at first, caused honorable members to believe that the new duties .represented an enormous percentage. As a matter of fact, however, as the result , of an interjection by the honorable member for South Sydney, it appeared that the object he had in view was to show merely that the duties in respect of certain items had been increased by a certain percentage upon the previous duties. , The Government admit that, in most cases, the duties have been increased. We have largely followed the reports of the Tariff Commission.
– The reports of the protectionist section of the Commission.
– I do not attach much value to the recommendations of the other section. The free-trade members of the Commission have recommended a freetrade or revenue Tariff.
– It gives proper consideration, in the circumstances, to our industries.
– Honorable members know perfectly well that I would not have anything to do with such a Tariff as that proposed by the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission. I. admit that both sections gave a great deal of time and consideration to the work before them, and sought to give effect to their political ideals. But it does not follow that the Government should wholly abide by their recommendations. If the Government have a policy, they must adhere to it. Honorable members will - find, on analyzing the reports of the protectionist section of the Commission, that practically the highest duties we have imposed are recommended by them.
– No. The Tariff is nearly 5 per cent. in excess of the duty proposed in every case by that section.
– There are, perhaps, a few cases where the duties proposed by us are slightly higher, but I had in mind the rates of duties- which we propose on imports from Great Britain. In some instances we have raised the duty 5 per cent. above the rate proposed by the protectionist section of the Commission in the case of imports from foreign countries.
– They were not asked to consider the question of preference.
– I think that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo and his colleagues, in one or two cases, refer in their reports to the question of preference. In more than one case a 5 per cent. preference is suggested.
– That is so.
– We are prpposing to grant Great Britain a substantial preference - a preference which, according to the reports of the officers of the Department of Trade and Customs, will apply, at the outset, to British imports of the value of something like £1,200,000 per annum, and will gradually extend to £1,500,000 worth per annum. This advantage may . be still greater a few years hence. Therefore, it cannot be denied that we are proposing to giant British imports a fairly substantial preference. It is idle for honorable member’s or the press to assert that we are not doing so. Judging by some of the statements published in the British press, and referred to in cablegrams appearing in Australian journals, the people of the Old Country are beginning to realize that we are offering them a substantial preference. I was glad to learn, judging by thewayin which my reference to it in the course of the Budget statement was received, that a majority of honorable members apparently were in favour of a preference being granted to British imports, and that they approved of the proposals we have made in that respect. I believe, too, that honorable members were pleased to learn that the Government did not propose to retaliate be- . cause we could not obtain from Great Britain that for which we asked.
– Was there, not a suggestion of retaliation in a speech made at the Imperial Conference?
– I think not. I took advantage of one or two opportunities while in England to say that there would be no retaliation on our part, and Ithink that the Prime Minister did the same. I have not seen anything in the press to suggest that we hinted at retaliation.
– I am very glad to hear it.
– I certainly did not intend to suggest anything of the kind, but I cannot account for every statement attributed to me by the press. One English newspaper tried, just as is done here sometimes, to misrepresent me in every possible way, but those who heard me refer to this subject in the Old Country knew perfectly well what object I had in view. We have absolutely carried out our promise to the people of Great Britain. The leader of the Opposition referred to the duty on candles. When the Dibbs Government, in New South Wales, imposed a duty on them-
– What was the rate of. the duty ?
– Ten per cent. ‘
– Whatever it was it resulted in the price of mining candles being reduced. Prior to the imposition of the Tariff imported mining candles in Sydney were sold at the rate of61/2d. or 7d. per lb Three years later, as the result of the competition of the Sydney Soap and Candle Company, theprice fell to41/2d. per lb. The local company also turned out a better article than was imported. Honorable members are aware that mining candles must be very hard, and the Sydney Soap and Candle Company took care to produce such an article. The leader of the Opposition subsequently, as the head of the Government, in New South Wales, abolished the duty, with the result that within two years the price went up to61/2d. per lb., and the Sydney Soap and Candle Company employed forty, as against nearly 500 men previously employed. The industry . has’ been struggling ever since.
– The honorable member is romancing.
– I am not. The figures are to be found in the New South Wales Hansard. I had them worked out, and placed them on record, when a member of. the State Parliament. The position is practically the same in regard to biscuits. As scon as the Dibbs Tariff came into operation, and local manufacturers were able to compete with the importers, ‘ the price of biscuits in New South Wales was reduced. Some of the manufacturers to-day object to a higher, duty simply because- as one. of them told me in Sydney the other day- they do not want competition. A manufacturer told me in Sydney on Saturday night that he would like the duty to remain at 15 per cent., so that he would be spared further competition.
– He said that he was willing to agree to a duty of 25 per cent.
– That is not so. I was present when he spoke at the gathering which the honorable member has in mind, and he told me that a duty of 15 per cent. was sufficient.
– Did not Mr. Hoskins say that he would not object to a duty of 25 per cent. ?
– I do not think so. I challenged him on the point, and he had to admit that he did not want competition. I desire to let the country know, however, that we intend to have regard, not to the wishes of Mr. Hoskins, Mr. Sandford, or any other individual, but for the welfare of the people generally. It is our desire that our manufacturing industries shall expand, and that our population shall increase. We hope to so encourage our industries that we shall be able to convert all our raw material into the manufactured article, and thus open up new avenues of employment, in which good wages will be paid. Unless we could secure that, I should not give a snap of the finger for any industry. Before the Tariff leaves this House, if I have charge of it - and I think I shall - it will provide for what is known as “ the new protection,” so that overcharging shall be impossible, and proper rates of wage will be paid in all industries affected by it.
– And will that system of new protection be carried out more satisfactorily than is the present arrangement in regard to the Excise duty on agricultural machinery?
– I am making inquiries in regard to what is done under the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act.
– That which is taking place issimply shocking.
– I hope that anything wrong that is taking place will be brought to light, and that we shall punish those who are responsible for it.
– One manufacturer who has been exempted from Excise duty is working his men fifty-six hours a week, and not paying them overtime. -Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - Inquiries are now being madeby my direction. This
Tariff will do good, not to any particular individual, but to Australia as a whole. If, astheresult of it, competition is increased, there need be no fear of increased prices. . As the result of the passing of this Tariff, we shall probably have better manufactures, a larger population, and really good rates of wages prevailing. No country is prosperous unless the wages paid to its working classes are satisfactory. The workers are the best circulating medium. When they are well paid trade generally is in a flourishing condition, and industries in which they are employed are able to afford good wages.
– The honorable member does not forget that wages-are relative ?
– I do not. Perhaps in some cases, as the result of the payment of higher rates of wages, the price of certain goods may - but only for a time - be increased. The. leader of the Opposition referred to the United States, which, he said, has a population of 83,000,000. I hope that if we proceed on proper lines our population will increase almost as rapidly as the ‘population of America has done. The right honorable member was hardly fair when he declared that we should only double our present population in sixty years. He must not forget that the United States and Canada are practically at the front door of the Old World, with its teeming millions anxious to set out for new lands. They are within a few days’ sail of Europe. People, in Great Britain and other countries who may desire to emigrate are attracted to such places because they know that should the climate prove unsuitable, or the working conditions unsatisfactory to them, they , will have no difficulty in returning quickly to their old homes. On the other hand, Australia is practically at. the other end of the world. In many cases, a man believes that in emigrating from Great Britain to Australia, he would be leaving his home for ever, and the fear that he might disapprove of the conditions prevailing in Australia, and find it impossible to return, very often causes him to hesitate before booking his passage to such a far distant land. If we are to do anything to attract population we must increase in every possible way the travelling facilities between Australia and Great Britain. We must quicken our means of communication with the Old World, and must advertise Australia in a way that has hitherto not been attempted. We may not increase our population as rapidly as
Canada and the United States have done, but I believe that by improving our means of communication, and making” known the resources of Australia in the old land we shall do much in> that direction. It is not necessary for me to deal further with the questions raised by the leader of the Opposition. We are now in Committee, and should any further explanation be necessary, I shall be prepared at the proper time to give it. I hope that this matter will not be talked to death, but that we shall proceed with expedition. After Friday next, when I hope to deal with a matter in regard to which the Prime Minister is anxious, I shall try to* provide for the consideration of the Tariff without interruption, and I hope to get rid of it at the earliest date possible, because it is only fair that importers and the public should know what are to be the permanent rates of duty. They should not be kept in suspense. It will not be the fault of the Ministry, certainly it will not be my fault, if the Committee does not deal with the Tariff with greater rapidity than” was prophesied the other night, when it was said that its consideration would not be finished until after Christmas. I do not think that there is any good reason why it should not be passed within three months.
– Will the Minister accept it without any alteration?
– No. I have been told that an alteration or adjustment is required in regard to the tobacco duties. I find, too, that retailers have increased the price of kerosene, although there is no duty on kerosene imported in bulk, but only on kerosene imported in tins, of which there is now about fifteen months’ supply in the Commonwealth.
– Another Minister told us this afternoon that there is only six months’ supply.
– I am speaking on the authority of a report furnished by the Comptroller- General of Customs. To my mind, it was- an immoral thing for’ the retailers of kerosene to raise its price as they have done. The price of tea has also been increased, although there is a duty only on tea imported in packets. .That duty was .imposed to provide for the work of putting up tea in packets being done in Australia instead of in Ceylon or in China. There is no duty on- tea imported in chests.
– If traders do not stop these practices, the honorable gentleman will run their businesses for them.
– I do not know about that, but there is a temptation to interfere when they do such things as are being done now. Action must be taken to prevent imposition upon the public such as has been practised by retailers, and possibly by importers, during the last fortnight.
– Will the honorable gentleman take steps to prevent the price of shares in woollen mills being increased because of the Tariff?
– I hope that the price of such shares will increase. With regard to the price of wire netting, I have an undertaking from Messrs. Lysaght Bros, that, even if the duty remains at 30 per cent., it will not be increased, and I understand that there will be no increase of the prices of the productions of our woollen mills.’ The statements which I have made should open the eyes of the public to the fact that those engaged in the selling of goods are making a gigantic haul.
– A haul is being made all round.
– The South Australian Government has saved its farmers from £6 to £8 a mile by importing wire netting.
– I regret having had to make an announcement about the action of the Premier of New South Wales in seizing wire netting in Sydney to-day. The occurrence was a most serious one.
– I think that, if the Minister will look at the case recorded in the book which I am handing to him, he will find that the New South Wales Government is in the right.’
– The New South Wales Government has no right to take by force anything in the control of the Customs Department.
– A legal decision was given in its favour.
– Why has not the Premier of New South Wales acted in a legal way?
– I am not defending his action.
– I wish to act discreetly in this matter, but honorable members must not be surprised should I take an extreme course, if there is a necessity to do so.
– The honorable gentleman should act in regard to the Premier of New South Wales as he would act in regard to a private individual.
– I wish it to go forth that I am taking what I consider a lenient course of action. Since I spoke this afternoon, the affair has been aggravated. I have since sent a temperate wire to the Premier of New South Wales, and I think that he will read between the lines. I have to uphold the powers of the Commonwealth, and I hope that he will not, by continuing his present line of conduct, force the Commonwealth to assert its powers.
– The Government has a very easy remedy. It can sue him.
– “ Johnny, ‘ get your gun.”
– I do not wish to say anything about guns. I have taken a very lenient and discreet course; but it is a very annoying and aggravating thing to have the Commonwealth defied.
– I presume the usual legal remedies are available.
– When the goods are gone, I do not know what legal remedies there are.
– Has not the Premier of New South Wales broken bond?
– The Premier of New South Wales has caused 1,000 rolls of wire netting to be taken from a- wharf in Sydney.
– Is not that a breach of the Customs Act?
– Everything possible is being done to make an electioneering cry, in view of the general elections, which take place next Tuesday week.
– The proper thing to do is to take the necessary steps to assert the legal rights of the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth must not be defied in this way. If the State Government could rightly take anything out of the Customs stores with the assistance of the police, it could take everything. However, I shall not say more on the subject now. In any case, I do not wish to act too soon, or to go- to extremes unless I am compelled to do so.
.- I rise for the purpose of assisting in the launching of this very important debate, and to give information in regard to some of the leading and material features of the new Tariff. At the present stage, I do not regard it as necessary or advisable to enter into a very profound discussion of detailsSuch a discussion ought to take place later on, as the various items come before us. But, in a big scheme like this, there are necessarily certain features, or portions, which loom more largely than others, and naturally command attention. These are entitled to prominence in the preliminary stages of the debate. At the outset, I desire to express my satisfaction at the manner in which the leader of the Opposition, who” represents the free-trade party in this Chamber, and in the country, opened the debate. I think from the attitude which he has assumed - I presume as the representative of the important party which he leads - that the discussion of the Tariff will be expedited, and its ultimate settlement facilitated. We approach the discussion of this Tariff under circumstances which are much more favorable for fair debate and consideration than those under which we approached the discussion of the first Commonwealth Tariff in October, 1901. At that time the situationwas extremely complicated, full of doubts and obscurities. Honorable members were met with conflicting interests and opinions, while the materials at their disposal for arriving at a conclusion were imperfect and1 inadequate. But now the Committee has before it the evidence collected by a Royal Commission, appointed at the instance of Parliament. ‘That Commission has conducted investigations throughout the whole of Australia, and has given every person interested in Tariff questions an opportunity to be heard. The- Tariff now before us is, in the main, the outcome of prolonged, sustained, and closely prosecuted investigations, inquiries, and deliberations, conducted throughout the Commonwealth by the authority and with the cognizance of Parliament. Upwards of 767 complaints were presented to the Commission for investigation, and for the presentation of those complaints 618 witnesses attended, and were examined and subjected to the rigid scrutiny of cross-examination. Therefore, the Commission had an abundance of material to assist it in arriving at its conclusions and recommendations ; and, as the result of its labours, Parliament and this Committee have abundance of materials to enable honorable members to review the recommendations of the Commission, and to facilitate their arrival at such conclusions “as may be thought just. As a member of the Commission, I have done my duty according to my best judgment, and am willing to submit my work to the consideration of Parliament. I shall not complain if the conclusions of the Commission are differed from, or if, instead of being accepted, they are rejected or altered. My attitude throughout the discussion of the Tariff will be characterized by a readiness to vindicate and to defend the recommendations of the Commission if attacked, and to explain when explanation is called for. The object and business of the Commission, as described in the instrument by which it was appointed, was to inquire into the extent to which Australian industries were affected by the working of the Tariff, and into the working of the Tariff itself. The Commission was a very wide one, covering the whole field of Tariff operations, industrial and technical, real and substantial grievances, and mere anomalies. Personally, I .found, in the course of the investigations of the Commission, that, in Victoria, and in other States, a number of industries have been materially and seriously affected by the Tariff. In some instances, factories have been absolutely closed; in others operations have been interfered with or hampered, the output having been reduced, and hands discharged because of the increase of importations. That was the general character and trend of the complaints and grievances put before us. In a few instances, factories have been completely closed. That was the case with distilleries in Melbourne, and galvanized iron factories in- South Australia.
– How many hands were affected ?
– I hope that the honorable member will not ask me to go into details now. If I did so, I could not finish my speech to-night. When we are dealing with individual items, I shall be willing to give such information as honorable members may ask for in regard to them. Some industries were closed completely, and others impaired in their operations, though not closed. In other words, the number actually closed was not so great ; but the number that had been affected, injuriously, and were not able to extend operations, as it was thought they should, was undoubtedly very large. In addition, the Commission felt justified in devoting their attention to such questions as - how far could these and other Australian industries be expanded, stimulated, and enlarged in their operations, and how far could other’ Australian industries be called into existence by a re-adjustment of the Tariff? Honorable members will, on examining our recommendations, find that some are based on the necessity of granting immediate and strong relief to industries which have been injuriously affected. I admit frankly that a large number of the recommendations which finds expression in the Commission’s scheme are. for the purpose of assisting in the creation and development of new industries, or, at any rate, of assisting industries that at present are merely in an incipient and preliminary condition. With reference to the Tariff generally, honorable members will, I think, find recommendations and suggestions calculated to remove anomalies in the incidence of Customs and Excise duties, to improve the_ methods of classification and division, and details of that character. Looking at the broad outlines of the Tariff, I say frankly that, in my opinion, the most important department is that which relates to metals and machinery. I place this in the forefront of the Tariff; and, in fact, would place it in the forefront of the Tariff of any civilized nation. It ought to be readily understood and appreciated in these modem times that no nation can hope to gain or maintain supremacy in industries or in national life, unless it endeavours to secure and maintain a lead in the production of iron and in all work therewith connected. Ironworks necessarily constitute the basis and foundation of our industrial system. It has been well said that if Britain loses her supremacy in the production of pig iron, the supremacy of the British Navy will be endangered. Pig iron is the foundation of all our great armaments, and in its various evolutions, manifestations, and developments, constitutes the ba’sis of our industrial life and system. Therefore, we strongly urge that the Committee should give the most kindly and favorable consideration to the development of our iron resources, and the maintenance arid progress of our engineering and mechanical industries. I should like, in the first place, to say a few words, starting, as it were, at the basis of the iron industry, namely, the development of our iron ores. I cannot but regard with pride, and a feeling of patriotism, tha strenuous beginning of the iron industry at that place called Eskbank, in New South Wales. Those works are, at present, carried on by Mr. Sandford and his collaborateurs, associates, and partners; but the industry was pioneered even before he took the field. We cannot but regard his efforts, his ambitions, awd his scheme, with favour. and desire to assist and support him in every honorable, reasonable, and legitimate way. I know’ that Mr. Sandford is in the position that he either wants a bonus on the production of iron, or a duty on bar, rod, and sheet iron. I must say that, anxious and strong as I am in my desire to assist Mr. Sandford, or any one else in a corresponding position in the development of the iron industry, I cannot at present see my way to support or recommend the imposition of an import duty on bar, rod, or sheet iron. But I certainly would be prepared to go to any reasonable length in assisting Mr. Sandford and his partners in working up their industry by means of a bonus, if a scheme could be devised that would be favorably considered by Parliament. Only in one of these two ways can Mr. Sandford be assisted; and I have arrived at the conclusion that at the present stage the proper method is by a bonus on the output of pig iron, or some other form of iron. If a duty were imposed on bar iron or pig iron it would, unfortunately, at any rate for some time to come, be a great- burden on all engineering and other works which consume iron throughout Australia. Next to the production of iron ores comes, necessarily, the engineering industry, that is, the work done within our foundries and workshops - the manipulation and treatment of the raw material, and its conversion into the finished article.
– Has Mr. Sandford not more iron than he can sell at the present time?
– I believe that Mr. Sandford has plenty of iron, but the difficulty is about the price under present conditions. I do not think any difficulty ought to be encountered in giving due consideration to the claim for additional protection and assistance in the engineering industry. Under the late Tariff . the protection on engines, machines, and machinery was unfortunately reduced to 12’J per cent.. But that that duty was inadequate has been proved by the swollen volume of importations, and the reduced output of the engineering works and foundries.
– We must not forget that the cost of importation is 26 per cent.
– I was talking generally about the 12 J per cent. ; we all know there are other considerations. I am now dealing with my own conclusions, which may be assailed afterwards. I am of opinion that the duty under the late Tariff was too low; .and I am willing and anxious to afford substantial protection. My colleagues and I propose a substantial’ increase, which has been said to be an increase of 100 per cent. ; that is, we recommend that the duty shall be raised from 12^ per cent, to 25 per cent. That duty applies to most of the large agricultural implements and machinery, and also to large engines and machines in connexion with other industries, reserving a proportion of what we may call the n.e.i. residue of agricultural implements at 25 per cent., and another portion at 12J per cent., because they are considered of small importance, and as not requiring the same high standard of protection. Generally speaking, our recommendation with reference to ironworks and engineering works, increase the protection all round from 12^ per cent, to 25 per cent., with the one exception of brasswork. In regard to the latter, there were, in our opinion, special reasons which justified the recommendation of myself and my protectionist colleagues that the import duty should be increased to 30 per cent. Those special reasons will be found fully explained in the reports of the Commission. Then next to the iron industry, in my opinion, stands the textile industry. In a great country like Australia, with its large flocks and herds, affording illimitable possibilities for the production of wool and the manufacture of’ fabrics from the raw material, it behoves Parliament and the people to endeavour to lay on broad and enduring foundations the woollen industry. It is true that in years gone by duties were imposed and endeavours made to promote and develop the woollen industry in Victoria and other States. It is true also that the success achieved under the States Tariffs and the States systems has’ not been so great as the admirers and supporters of the industry desire to see realized! I ‘ think, however, that, with a united Australia, and a system of InterState free-trade- with all the possibilities of the interchange of specialties of production in each State, and in view pf what it is hoped will be the greater popularization of ‘the Australian produced article - we may fairly expect - the woollen industry to rise superior to the depression into which it has fallen in consequence of the inadequate support received by it of late years. I join with those who lay great stress on the necessity and importance of promoting the woollen industry.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When the adjournment hour arrived I was drawing attention to the importance of the woollen industry, and to the necessity of protecting the woollen factories which have already been established under States law. Under the old Commonwealth Tariff the duty upon woollen piece goods was 15 per cent., and the manufacturers of the several States complained of the utter inadequacy of that impost. They suggested that it should be increased to 30 per cent. With my protectionist colleagues upon the Commission I felt that if we were to make any change whatever in the rate of duty levied, it ought to be one of a substantial character, and that it ought to proceed upon the same lines as we followed in connexion with the engineering industry. Therefore, we proposed that the existing duty should be doubled. In other words, we recommended that the duty upon piece goods should be increased to 30 per cent., and that upon blankets to 25 per cent. We thought that these were fair increases, which were justified by the circumstances. We believe that it will be impossible for the woollen industry in Australia to hold its own - much less to make any progress - unless it is. shielded, by substantial Tariff duties, from inferior shoddy goods, the product of the cheap labour and lower industrial conditions of other countries. We found that there was strong reason for believing that Australia had become the dumping ground for the sweepings of the world’s markets, and we were of opinion that a supreme effort should be made to make the woollen industry a national one, of which the people might be justly proud. If we fail to do that it will not be the fault of this Parliament should it adopt these recommendations - it will be owing to circumstances over which we have no control. But I consider that it is the duty of Parliament to give every support to this great industry. I believe that I am justified in saying - as the result of the evidence presented to the Commission - that many woollen mills have been dragging out a bare existence during the past few years, and have not realized the expectations of their founders or of those who have invested their money in them. Many persons have spent fortunes in attempting to develop the woollen industry of Australia, and few have obtained any adequate return for their outlay. If, under a united Australia, they cannot obtain better protection than was granted to them by the several States, it is just as well that they should be made aware of the fact, and the sooner the better. They will then know that the struggle is hopeless, and that there are limitations to their prospects. With reference to the future of the woollen industry, I frankly admit that we have recommended these increases, not for the purpose of enabling manufacturers to carry on their present operations and to produce medium or lower class goods, but to assist them to launch out into a wider field, and to lay clown plants for the production of high-class tweeds. The members of the Commission were informed toy a leading Collins-street tailor that if we wished to establish the woollen industry in Australia upon a sound and permanent footing, we must recommend the adoption of an almost prohibitive duty, and make it operative for at least twenty years. It is idle to adopt a small measure of protection. We must grant the industry substantial protection and guarantee its continuance for some time, otherwise men will not invest” their money in it. If it is to succeed at all it will succeed under the Commission’s proposals. Of course woollen piece goods constitute the foundation of the whole industry. They represent the starting point in the scheme of duties relating to apparel and textiles. Some honorable members have expressed surprise that the duty upon ready-made apparel and attire has been increased to- as much as 40 per cent. But if we place a high duty, such as 30 per cent, upon piece goods which are the raw material out of which clothing is manufactured, we must necessarily increase proportionately the duty upon the finished product in the shape Di ready-made clothing. If we increased the duty upon piece goods, and did not raise that upon the finished article, the whole of the trade would naturally be driven in the direction of the importation of the finished article. Although it was with very great regret that I felt compelled to ‘recommend an increase in the duty upon ready-made woollen clothing to 40 per cent, I saw no logical escape from that position. That duty represents 10 per cent, in excess of the impost upon the raw material. If we are to establish the woollen industry, and if that course requires substantial protection, we must allow a margin of 16 per cent, between the duty upon the raw material and that upon the finished article. Otherwise the entire trade, will be driven in the direction of increased importation, and the duty will prove a total failure. Therefore the duties upon piece goods and upon the ready-made article form part of one scheme. They dovetail into each other - they are inseparable. At the same time we did not desire to recommend an increase of duty upon all ready-made articles to 40 per cent., and therefore we suggested that the duty upon non-woollen clothing should be 35 per cent. Reference has been made to the. difference between the duty upon woollen goods and that upon silk clothing and silk piece goods. The cause of that difference is obvious. The silk piece goods, which are charged only 15 per cent., are not goods made, or at present capable of being made, in Australia. It would be an outrage on common-sense to increase the duty on silk piece goods to the same extent as that upon woollen piece goods. For a similar reason there is no necessity to increase the duty upon garments made of silk to the same standard as the duty upon garments made of wool. A similar remark is applicable to velvets, which are dutiable at 15 per cent. They are differentiated “from woollen piece goods for the reason I have indicated. Velvets are not made in Australia, and there is no prospect of them being made here, consequently they are charged a lower rate of duty, namely, 15 per cent. The same reasoning applies to other items in the piece goods list. Just as wool is the produce oi- an animal, so also is leather as a raw material. I am glad indeed to be able to give to the House a better account of the progress of the boot, shoe, and leather industry than I have been able to give with reference to the woollen industry. I am pleased to be able to say that my colleagues and myself representing the protectionist members of the Commission did not feel called upon to recommend any increase in ‘the present duty of 30 per cent, upon boots and shoes generally. We have, however, suggested an increase in the duty upon infants’ shoes from 20 per cent, ‘to 30 per cent, for the purpose of establishing a common range of duty upon the whole of these articles of footwear. J. am glad to say .that the manufacture of leather in Australia has proceeded very satisfactorily of late years, and that even- in the production of some of the high-grade leathers, such as glace kid, there has been a distinct improvement. Although some of the boot and shoe manufacturers desired certain other alterations in the Tariff, we were not able to recommend them. We did! not feel called upon to recommend everything that we were asked to indorse. We exercised our deliberate judgment in respect of the various items, and if we were of opinion that a strong case had not been made out we declined to recommend any increase. Other items connected with the raw materials proceeding from beasts are those of candles and soap. In reference to candles we found that the manufacture of candles from stearine, which is the product of tallow, had been established in various States such as Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. But of late years the stearine candle-making industry has had to encounter a very formidable rival in the shape of candles made from paraffine wax, which is a by-product of petroleum. These candles are brought from America, and also from Rangoon. The candle-makers of the States to which I have referred complained of the undue competition of these paraffine wax candles. We felt that their case had been, sustained, and accordingly recommended an increase in the duty upon paraffine wax candles of id. per lb. At the same time we recognised that there were candle-makers in Tasmania and New South Wales who were making composite candles - that is, candles composed partly of stearine and partly of paraffine wax - and we declined to accede to the request to increase the duty upon paraffine wax, as the raw material, because any such action would oppressively affect the manufacturers in question. I draw attention to other by-products of beasts, in the shape of glue and gelatine. They are also important’ and valuable manufactures which ought certainly to be stimulated in Australia. I see no reason why in a country abounding in cattle and animal life generally we should need to import glue and gelatine. I frankly admit that we have recommended a substantial, and what we hope will prove an effective, duty on those commodities. Passing from animal life to the forest and field, I should like to draw attention to the scheme of duties upon timber, woodware, and furniture. I have read and heard of a great outcry against some of the timber duties. The starting point of our duties on timber is founded on the necessity of promoting and encouraging the use of timber existing at the present time in Australia, and also the maintenance and continuance of our forests for use in future years.
– Can we grow such timber as we now import largely from New Zealand? Take, for example, Oregon?
– The honorable member will obtain that information on perusing the evidence taken before the Commission. Meanwhile I am giving the Committee merely a sketch of our proceedings. I should take up too much time if I were to go’ into details. If there are any complaints in reference to the timber duties they may all be traced to the starting point, namely, -the duty on undressed timber. The object of that duty is to induce the manufacturers of woodwork and makers of furniture to use the Australian-grown article. I was surprised and delighted, iri the course of my travels and investigations, to hear and learn of the splendid timber resources of our continent. The timber supplies of Western Australia are almost illimitable. There we find jarrah, karri, tuart, and other timbers of great service for building and other purposes. In Tasmania we have hardwood, such as stringy-bark and bluegum; iri Victoria we have messmate, bluegum, and blackwood ; in the great State of Queensland we have hoop-pine, soft woods, cedars, silky oak, and other most beautiful timbers, samples of which would surprise and delight honorable members. I deeply regret that the wonderful forest resources of the great State of Queensland are not properly known and appreciated by the people of Australia. I am absolutely convinced that if the value and utility of those splendid timbers were known by the workers and manufacturers of Victoria we should not hear so much here about the necessity for the importation of
Oregon and New Zealand timbers, or of Baltic and other foreign woods. I am sure that manufacturers here, if they knew of these timbers, would give a fair trial to them, as well as to the timbers of New South Wales, where many of the same splendid trees are growing in glorious magnificence.
– Some of the timber in the forests in the northern parts of New South Wales cannot be got at.
– It will never be got at unless we give the industry a start.
– lt will not be given a start by the Tariff.
– We shall try, at all events, to give it a start. . I admit that some people engaged in the timber trade in Melbourne asked for free timber. I felt, however, that I should not be doingmy duty as a member of a Commonwealth Tariff Commission if I did not seek to dojustice to the resources and wishes of the other States as well as to those of the State with which I am more intimately associated. I am, therefore, determined that, as far as possible, the timbers of New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia shall have a fair show. If these duties are altered to the prejudice of the forest resources of the Continent it will not be my fault. Passing on to another branch of natural or primary industries, we come to the pottery and earthenware trade. Pottery is one of the most ancient industries. If is founded entirely upon the soil. Here in Australia we certainly ought to have enough enterprise and sufficiently skilled artificers to make all the pottery and earthenware necessary for local requirements. I view with a great deal of sympathy and interest the industries of the kind already established, and look forward to the time when they will obtain an even stronger hold upon the support of the people of Australia than they have at present. In South Australia more particularly the Commission received very valuable information from a local potter. Taking us through his establishment, he pointed out a splendid array of work that he had manufactured, and for which he could find no market When asked the reason for this he replied : ‘ “ The merchants find that they can import pottery and earthenware much cheaper than we could make it here, and consequently we shall have tq, close down unless something be done in the direction of increased consideration and protection for us.” Pursuing the same principle which guided my own judgment in other matters, whilst prepared to support an increased protection to earthenware and pottery, I was not prepared to recommend an increased duty upon chinaware, although the Commission were asked to do so by a South Australian witness. I took up this stand for the reason that the industry of china.ware is more advanced and more scientific, involves more expense and greater aptness on the part of artificers, as well as. more capital, than does the production of earthenware pottery. At the same time, it is my duty to mention, in the interests of South Australia, that we were informed that on Kangaroo Island there was discovered not long ago splendid raw material in the shape of vast deposits of china clays. It is believed that in time these will assist in laying the foundation for the manufacture of chinaware in Australia.
– We have plenty of china clays in New South Wales.
– I was not so informed as a member of the Commission, but am glad to hear it. Believing that an extra duty on chinaware might merely operate as a revenue impost, while having an oppressive effect on existing industries, I do not see my way clear to go to that extent at the present time. I come now to glassware and bottles. The glassware and bottle making industry may be regarded by some people as ephemeral - one that ought to be able to carry on without any protection. In the United States of America everything possible is done to localize and increase bottle factories. In some districts the municipal councils go so far as to offer sites for bottle and glass factories to induce manufacturers to establish them in their midst, so as to settle an industrial population in and around given townships and centres. The glassware and bottle making industries may be considered as native, and “ to the manner born,” since these goods are made mainly of common sand, with a few chemicals added. The industry can be easily established in any country. Very strong efforts have been made in Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales to establish the manufacture of bottles and various grades of glassware. To a certain extent those efforts have been successful, but it is said that of late the very existence of these factories has been threatened by the fierce competition with which they are beginning to meet on the part of Germany and Japan. It has been found, according to the evidence put before us - and it is for honorable members to say whether or not they believe it - that vast quantities of bottles have been shipped to Australia and sold at prices so inadequate that the suspicion! that they have been sold at cutting rates in order to help to destroy the local factories appears to be well founded. I hope that honorable members will approach the consideration of the duties on glassware and bottles from a favorable stand-point, in view of the few remarks I have made in’ support of them. Next on the list come marble, slate, roofing tiles, salt, and other products of the soil. Splendid marble deposits exist at Angaston and Kapunda in South Australia, and also at Mount Wills in Gippsland. In
New South Wales, likewise, there are splendid deposits.
– And also in Tasmania.
– I did not hear of them, but am glad to have the honorable member’s assurance. We had expert evidence given by highly-trained professional sculptors that some of the marble deposits of Australia are equal to the marble quarries out of which Imperial Rome was built, and that there are marvellous possibilities connected with the marble resources of the Continent. Roofing tiles are made in Western Australia, and splendid roofing slates are quarried in South Australia.
– At Willunga.
– That is so. I was delighted with the evidence of the natural resources of South Australia in many respects, and wish to express my surprise that many of those resources have not been better known and more fully developed. I should like to refer now to the duty on salt. The subject was well discussed in the first Parliament, and honorable members will probably have the old story retold. I hope, however, that the case for a duty on salt will be presented this time in a more business-like manner, and that the arguments and facts in support of it will be put more forcibly before the Committee. We intend to strongly support a duty of j£i per ton on bulk salt. I believe the result of that duty will, be to maintain salt production in Victoria and South Australia, and to enlarge the scope and the operation of those firms which are already engaged in the industry. We were informed that there are salt deposits in Western Australia.
– Yes ; at Esperance. There are millions of tons of salt there.
– A man wished to. give evidence on the subject, but, unfortunately, he was unable to travel to Kalgoorlie to do so. If honorable members examine the minutes of evidence, they will find it clearly proved that, since the establishment of salt works in Victoria and South Australia, the wholesale selling price of salt has been enormously reduced. That may be mentioned as one of the most convincing proofs that the establishment of local industries has the result, in many cases, not of increasing, but of reducing prices. I desire, wherever I can, to put in a word for Queensland,. the only State which:, up to the present time, has produced a superior and high grade mineral water. That water is known as Helidon Spa water. When at Brisbane, the Commission had the pleasure of hearing the evidence of Mr. Primrose, one of the proprietors of the springs, who, in our opinion, made out a fairly strong case for increased protection against the importation of mineral waters from Germany and Japan. I need not take up time in drawing attention to the necessity for fostering the production of sugar and cotton in Australia, to which reference was made recently during the debates on the Bounties Bill. If anything can be done to stimulate the growing of cotton within the Commonwealth, Parliament should do it. I believe that there is a great future for the cotton industryin Australia, and I earnestly invite honorable members to read the evidence given before the Commission in Brisbane by experts appointed to speak on behalf of the Queensland Government.
– Does the honorable member wish for a bounty and a duty as well ?
– I am not speaking about bounties at the present time - they were dealt with when the Bounties Bill was under consideration - I am merely mentioning one or two industries which I think should be fostered. Tobacco growing is another industry which should be encouraged. If honorable members examine the scheme of the Excise and Customs duties on tobacco; recommended by the Commission, they will probably be agreeably surprised to find that its members, free-trade and protectionist, were almost in accord in regard to it, differing only as to whether the import duty on plug tobacco should be increased by 3d. The protectionist members of the Commission have no desire to make any change in the Tariff which would increase the protection given to the manufacturers of plug tobacco made from imported leaf. On the contrary, we felt that that protection should, if anything, be reduced. Under the old Tariff, the difference between the . Customs and Excise duty amounted to about9d., and under the present Tariff it amounts to 3d. where stemmed leaf is used, and to 6d. where unstemmed leaf is used The object of reducing the advantage on plug tobacco made from imported leaf is to induce, by all the force of law, Australian manufacturers to use locally grown leaf. If locally grown leaf is used, the protection, instead of being 3d. or 6d., will be1s. 6d. per lb. In effect, we are saying to the manufacturers, “ You have imported too much leaf, to the neglect of the locally-grown leaf. If, in the future, you use Australian leaf, your profits will be increased, while, if you insist on importing the leaf you use to make plug tobacco, they will be reduced. As to the quality of Australian-grown tobacco, I ask honorable members to read the evidence of Mr, Neville, the Queensland Government expert,which is well worth consideration and attention. Mr. Neville was formerly. employed in tobacco factories in the United States ; I think in Virginia. . He came to Queensland with a splendid reputation, and is probably the best tobacco expert in Australia. In my opinion, he shows conclusively that there are vast, regions in Queensland where the best tobacco in the world could be grown in almost illimitable quantities, and such tobacco has been grown there - tobacco suitable for plug-making, and tobacco which could be used for cigars and cigarettes. ‘ His evidence was confirmed by other witnesses examined in South Australia, and in Western Australia. The manufacturers of tobacco have not given the Australian leaf a fair trial. For some reason, best known to themselves, they have done all that they can to depreciate the locallygrown leaf, and are moving Heaven and earth to obtain concessions in favour of imported leaf.
– Under the Tariff which we are amending, what inducement per lbwas given to the manufacturers for the use of colonial leaf?
– Very little. Thedifference between Customs and Excise duties was9d. per lb. in favour of tobacco made from imported leaf. Now we say to the manufacturers, “Your importations of leaf have been too great. We wish you in future to use Australian leaf.”
– I heard a deputation in Adelaide on Monday whose members informed me that Australian leaf cannot be used.
– I decline to take my Tariff views from persons who arefinancially interested in importing leaf, and who are determined, at all hazards, to use imported leaf.
– The deputation re-, ferred to was composed of employes.
– The manufacturers are putting up their workers to disparage this Tariff, because they have been deprived of the advantage of 9d. to which I have referred.
– Those who saw me were honest men.
– No doubt the employes are feeling the pinch at the present time; but if the manufacturers give the Australian leaf a fair trial, they will not ultimately be prejudiced. I hope that the Committee will not be led by the nose by the manufacturers, but will be guided by the evidence of the Commission.
– Was not colonial leaf used almost exclusively in Queensland prior to Federation?
– Under the Queensland Tariff the importation of tobacco leaf almost ceased, and locally-grown leaf was used almost to the exclusion of imported leaf. The experience of the people of Queensland is recorded in the Commission’s minutes of evidence. Witnesses made a strong appeal to the Commission on behalf of the tobacco-growers of Queensland, and I hope that honorable members will read that evidence before listening to the suggestions of interested manufacturers. Until the tobacco manufacturers have shown a disposition to give Australian-grown leaf a fair trial, they should not attempt to dictate To us in this matter. We ought to encourage the growing of tobacco, not only in Queensland, but also in New South Wales and Victoria, and locally-grown leaf would not be used by the manufacturers if. the inducement to use imported leaf for plug tobacco which they had under the old Tariff were continued. It is only by forcing them to use Australian leaf, by making it profitable for them to do so, that we shall establish our tobacco industry on a secure and enduring foundation.
– Does the honorable member think that consideration should be given to the manufacturers of hand-twisted tobacco ?
– No evidence was given before the Commission in regard to twisted tobacco specially, and therefore we have not made any particular recommendation on the subject, but I shall be quite prepared to consider any proposal in regard to it. ‘
– If Parliament gave manufacturers a concession of 9d. per lb. for the use of imported leaf they cannot be blamed for having used it.
– We wish to abolish that concession.
– It shows what a strange Parliament it is when it can make such an egregious blunder.
– It is useless to go into that matter now. In our endeavour to encourage the manufacture of plug tobacco, we prejudiced the use of locallygrown leaf. I have now’ referred to what I described at the beginning of my speech as some of the leading and predominating features of the Tariff. My idea of protection is that we should first consider whether we can grow or produce locally the raw materials of industries, whether from plant or animal life, or from the soil. If we can we have a solid foundation upon which to build up industries under protective duties. If we have the raw materials, my view of a true protectionist policy is that we should aim at the development of their production. That is the reason I started by referring to iron ores, wool, and the various products of the soil. If we can point to natural resources, let us start to develop, improve, and apply them to the uses, requirements, and comforts of mankind. If we have not those natural resources, then I say that the industry which starts on the assumption that we must import all the raw material stands at a disadvantage. If we have those raw materials in our midst and practically inexhaustible, there is the stronger reason for supporting an industry springing out of such materials, than for supporting more ephemeral industries, consisting of, say, the assembling of parts and material made in another country. That is a very subordinate branch of industry, which is not .entitled to the same amount of substantial protection. This has been my guiding star in arriving at my conclusions; and I hope and believe that honorable members will be able to appreciate the force of my contention.
– Is there a trace of the Tariff Commission’s reports in the Tariff? The Minister has never said a word about the matter.
– It is not for me or my colleagues to take any particular credit for having drawn attention to this or the other particular. Any industrious student, on searching the reports of the Commission, and comparing the recommendations of the Commission with the actual propositions of the Tariff, may, occasionally, see a striking similarity ; and for those portions of the Tariff, where the similarity ceases. I am not prepared to express any very great admiration. However, I shall touch on that point presently. Meanwhile, it would be only doing justice to the Commission to rapidly enumerate some of the principal recommendations. There are 444 items in the Tariff - a very formidable list. I hasten to assure- honorable members that the whole of those 444 items are not necessarily contestable. Many are merely formal ; and I venture to think that when we come to the details, the fight will really be concentrated upon forty-seven lines or propositions ; those forty-seven lines may be described as occupying the fighting ground of the Tariff. Amongst those which I. might call the fairly substantial increases recommended by the protectionist members of the Commission, the first is in regard to confectionery, including chocolate. On chocolate the duty was id. per lb., and the recommended duty is 2d., an increase of id. The Government have proposed 3id. on British and 3§d. on other, confectionery. These items, I may point out, are to be found in the British preference column.
– The honorable member is referring to the recommendations of the Commission, and- not the proposals of the Government, as compared- with the former Tariff?
– Yes. In the case of confectionery, the Commission recommended a duty of 2d. per lb., but the Government, propose a duty of 3½d. per lb. in the case of- British goods, and 3! d. in the general Tariff. That is where the similarity ends between the recommendations of the Commission and the proposal of the Government in this- instance. Then in regard to- candles of paraffine wax, the old duty was id. per lb., and the Commission recommend ad. per lb., or an increase of id., and the Government have gone one higher, and proposed duties of 2d. to 2½d. per lb. The 2d. is to be charged on the British made candle, and the 2j-d. on the candle of the foreigner. I was going to refer to the question of preference later, but, perhaps, it would be more convenient to do so now. In regard to candles, I fail to see how the proposed dutv will be of any verv great benefit or advantage to the British made candles, because I - find that, while the importation of candles from foreign countries represents .£34,235 in one year, the importation from Great. Britain amounts to only ,£2,602. I shall next say a word or two about salt. On this commodity the old duty was’ 12s. Sd. per ton, and the recommended duty is 20s. per ton, or an increase of 7s. 6d. per ton. On apparel and attire containing wool, the old dutv was 25 per cent., and the duty recommended by the Commission is 40 per cent., or an increase of 15 per cent. On apparel and attire, not of wool, the old duty was 25 per cent., arid the recommended duty is 35 per cent., or an increase of 10 per cent. On bags and sacks the old duty was 10 per cent., and the recommended duty is 15 per cent., or an increase of 5 per cent. On woollen piece goods, the old duty was 15 per cent., and the recommended duty is 30 per cent., or an increase of 15 per cent. On blankets, rugs, &c, the old duty was 15 per cent.,, and the recommended dutv. is 25 per cent., or an increase of 10 per cent. On socks and stockings of wool, the old duty was 15 per cent., and the recommended duty is 25 per cent., or. an increase of 10 per cent. Under the heading of hats and caps, n.e.i., straw, &c, the old. duty on straw hats was 20 per cent., and the recommended duty is 30 per cent., or an increase of 10 per cent. Speaking of hats and caps, which I forgot to refer to just now, I may say that we took most exhaustive evidence throughout the various hat and cap producing States, and everybody was heard who demanded to be heard. After hearing the whole case, and re-perusing the evidence, I and my protectionist- colleagues could not see our way to recommend, any increased duty on felt hats- and caps, or on silk hats and caps. But we did feel justified in recommending that there should be a uniform duty of 30 per cent, on all hats, caps and bonnets of whatever material, kind or description. It was conceived that with the old differentiation of 20 per cent, on straw hats, the latter and their like might come into competition with felt hats, and, to some extent, displace and take away trade f from the latter. We thought that by raising straw hats to the common standard of felt hats, we might indirectly benefit felt and other hats, although we could not see, as I say, our way to give an increased duty. The next item is nails, on which the Commission recommended an increase of duty. Oh horse-shoe nails the old duty was 5s. per cwt., and the recommended duty is 7s. 6d., or an increase of 2s. 6d. per. cwt. On. nails, wire and other, the old duty was 3s. per. cwt., and the recommended duty is 5s. per cwt., or an increase of 2s. I now come to the big items of engines, boilers, pumps; wind- mills, -and machines and machinery, min- ing, marine and general. On these items the old duty was 12 J per cent., and therecommended duty is 25 per cent., or an increase of 12J per cent. This includes. I may say, mining, as well as marine machinery, and I invite honorable members to give attention to the two special reports on mining machinery and marine engines and machinery. There honorable members’ will see very valuable and interesting evidence about ship-building in New South Wales, and the wonderful resources and capabilities of that great establishment known as Mort’s Dock.
– This Tariff is going to hit the docking facilities very badly.
– No; I may say that the recommendation is based largely on the request of engineers, and particularly of Mr. Franki, the representative of Mort’s Dock. Mr. Franki admitted that at one time he was a free-trader, but he said, without any reservation, that the change in industrial conditions of Australia of late years, resulting in increased facilities for the .importation of machines and machinery from across the sea, had driven him to the conclusion that it would be impossible to keep going Australian engineering work, including his own, unless there were increased protective duties. The next item is that of brass work, engineering and plumbing. In reference to brass work, as I said before, we saw our way clear to go beyond 25 per cent., and we, without any hesitation, recommended the exceptional duty of 30 per cent. I now come to that much controverted and very exciting item of wire netting ; and I may say that I am extremely surprised to witness the great excitement and controversy in regard to this commodity. What would the people of New South Wales have said if we had not recommended the imposition of a. duty upon wire netting ?
– The right honorable member for Adelaide omitted it from the Tariff which he introduced. ‘
– But he had not heard the evidence which was placed before the Tariff Commission. If this were a Victorian industry, there might be some reason for the howl which has been raised in connexion with it. But it is a New South Wales industry, and it is in response to the appeal made to the Commission by, persons in that State that the present duty is being imposed. How could we resist an appeal for the protection of the wire in- dustry of New South Wales whilst acceding to similar requests for protection in other States? Had we done so we should have been accused of discriminating - of favoring Victorian industries at the expense of industries in New South Wales.
– Was that the only reason why the protectionist members of the Commission recommended the imposition of the duty?
– We recommended it because of the evidence presented to us by a witness who pointed out the severe nature of. the competition to which the industry was subjected owing to the importation of wire netting produced by cheap labour in Germany, and brought to Australia in subsidized vessels. That was the evidence which induced us to submit recommendations in respect of duties upon wire netting and barbed wire. Honorable members representing New South . ‘Wales and the other States will have an opportunity of deciding the matter. It was not the province of the Commission to exclude it from their consideration. If the protectionists of New South Wales and of the other States are convinced - after reading the evidence tendered to the Commission - that it is not desirable to impose these duties, the decision rests entirely with them. I come now to the item of printer’s type, which, at present, is admitted free. Representations were made to the Commission by persons resident in New South Wales - and these representations were supported by citizens in other States - that the manufacture of printer’s type is not so difficult that it cannot be- undertaken in Australia. If other industries receive protection, and the manufacturers of printer’s type cOmplain pf the unfavorable conditions under which they have to compete, surely thev are entitled to similar consideration. Then there is an interesting little industry which we first came across in South Australia - I refer to the manufacture of blacking.
– Blacking has been manufactured in Victoria for the past thirty years.
– I am quite aware of that. I merely say that the Commission first took evidence in regard to it in South Australia. The old duty upon blacking was 20 per cent. ; the duty recommended is 35 per cent. - an increase of 15 per cent. I ask honorable members to read the evidence tendered’ to the Commission in respect of that item. In regard to earthenware, the old duty was 20 per cent. ; the duty recommended is 30 per cent. - an increase of 10 per cent. In the matter of stone, wrought, ornamental, the old dutywas 25 per cent., and the duty recommended is 35 per cent. - an increase of 10 per cent. Upon stone, wrought, the old duty was 20 per cent., the duty recommended is 30 per cent. - an increase of 10 per cent. ; upon glass, bent and bevelled, the old duty was 20 per cent., and the duty recommended is 30 per cent. - an increase of 10 per cent. In- reference to glass bottles, we recommended a duty, based not upon the ad valorem principle, but upon measurement. Upon printers’ roller composition the old duty was 20 per cent., the duty recommended is 35 per cent. - an increase of 15 per cent. Upon furniture the old duty was 20 per cent., the duty recommended is 30 per cent. - an increase of 10 per cent. The timber duties are not based upon the ad valorem principle, but upon measurement, or fixed rates. Upon wooden- ware there is at present an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent., and we propose an all-round duty of 30 per cent., being an increase of 10 per cent. Upon wicker, bamboo and cane the old duty was 20 per cent., the duty recommended is 40 per cent. - an increase of 20 per cent. I desire to explain that this item is one of three upon which the protectionist members of the Commission felt justified in recommending a duty of 40 per. cent. The first item was that of woollen garments and made-up clothing. This wicker, bamboo and cane is imported in shiploads from eastern countries, such as the Straits Settlements and Japan, and in South Australia and Western Australia we were informed that it would be impossible to carry on the manufacture of this class of goods subject to the cheap labour competition of these countries. In view of these special considerations, we felt bound to recommend the imposition of a much higher rate of duty upon wicker, bamboo and basketware than we did upon ordinary furniture. Upon ordinary furniture we recommended a duty of 30 per cent., and upon wicker bamboo and basketware a duty of 40 per cent.
– Why is a special . rate levied upon chairs?
– That was suggested bv witnesses representing the furniture industry, and there was no evidence presented to the Commission in opposition to their views. We had no material upon which to test the accuracy of their allega tions. Upon jewellery unfinished, the duty has been, raised from 25 to 35 per cent. ; upon boots and shoes of small size, from 15 to 30 per cent. ; upon rubber manufactures n.e.i., from 15 per cent, to 20 per cent. ; upon bicycles, from 20 to 25 per cent., with a minimum of £5 per vehicle. Then there is a special report upon vehicles, containing a new fixed scale of duties which represents practically an adaptation of the old Victorian duties upon vehicles and conveyances. Upon brushware, the old duty has been raised from 15 to 25 per cent. The position in regard to tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes will be best understood if honorable members examine the scale of duties. The question of the duties which should be levied upon spirits was dealt with last session, and, I hope, finally disposed of. The duties upon agricultural implements, including harvesters, were, as I understood, fixed last session, and I will not assist in re-opening that question.
– The honorable member must.
– Upon aerated waters, we recommend an increase of from 20 to 25 per cent. ; and upon engravings, which were formerly free, we recommend the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent. Upon leather manufactures n.e.i., leather cut into shape, harness, razor strops, and whips, including keepers, thongs, and’ lashes, the present duty is 20 per cent., and the duty recommended, 25 per cent., an increase of 5 per cent. Upon soap, we recommend a uniform duty of 25 per cent. In regard to leather n.e.i., we suggest an increase of the duty from 15 to 20 per cent. I have felt it necessary to go through these forty-seven items because I consider them the backbone of the protectionist portion of the Tariff. The others involve matters less vital, and many of them may be disposed of by considerations which do not go to the root of the fiscal question. But I believe that the forty-seven items which I have enumerated, and which will be seen by reference to progress report number 50, represent the real increases in the protective duties recommended by the Commission, and apparently adopted by the Government in reference to British products. That brings me to the question of preference generally. Speaking for myself only, I wish to say that in presenting these recommendations I consider that they represent duties of a sufficiently substantial character to protect our industries against the whole world, including Great Britain. In reference to preferential trade, my idea was that,” whilst I would be prepared tosupport the recommendations to which I have appended my signature as representing the highwater mark of protection against the outside world, if I felt disposed to give any advantage to goods of a similar description coming from the United Kingdom I would be ready in individual cases to concede a reduction. But in submitting these recommendations, I never thought that I should be called upon to vote for increases of duty above my own maximum. I cannot, therefore, support the increases proposed nominally for preferential trade purposes.
– They are actual increases, not nominal ones.
– It may be that that view was present in the mind of the Acting Prime Minister, or it may be that these increases were intended to be substantial increases against the whole world.
– If they operate as substantial increases against the whole world they must represent a substantial preference to Great Britain.
– At the proper time, I shall be prepared to support moderately reduced duties upon certain British imports. But I am not prepared to support higher duties than those which I have recommended against the whole world. In regard to the question of whether we ought at the present stage to embark upon a preferentialtrade campaign, I wish to say that I am as strongly in favour of a real system of preferential trade as is any man in this country. On the public platform, I was an advocate of the Chamberlain scheme of preferential trade, butI understood that that scheme involved reciprocity. That is to say, it was to be based upon mutuality of concession. If Australia granted concessions to Great Britain, I understood that Great Britain would be prepared to consider concessions in favour of the raw products of Australia. That was the campaign which Mr. Chamberlain fought with such brilliant capacity, and, as we fondly hoped, with success throughout the United Kingdom. He boldly advocated concessions in the shape of reduced duties on colonially-produced goods. But I think it is impossible to deny that the people of the United Kingdom have vetoed that brilliant scheme. It is open to consideration whether or not, in view of the verdict of the people of the United Kingdom at the last general election, we ought to rush into any illconsidered, haphazard scheme of preferential trade. The Government’s proposal is described as a scheme of preferential trade, but it is inconsistent with Mr. Chamberlain’s ideas. He certainly expected a big substantial preference in favour of British goods, and not one of 5 per cent. In return, I understand, he was prepared to give a substantial concession on colonial productions.
– He said so repeatedly.
– Quite so. That was the ‘ brilliant scheme of Imperial partnership which he had in view.
– If we cannot obtain all that we desire, is not the honorable member prepared to take an instalment ?
– To be perfectly frank and candid, I do not think that it would be well to start in the small way proposed by the Government.
– Then the honorable member would as soon obtain goods from China as from Great Britain?
– A reduction of 5 per cent. in respect of British imports may be a preference ; but under this Tariff we may go much further in the direction of preference, and favorable consideration to British goods without injuring Australian production. I am not prepared to agree to a reduction of dutyupon any class of goods - even in favour of Great Britain - which would be prejudicial to Australian manufactures.
– Then what would be the use of the preference to the British manufacturer ? .
– There are certain lines of manufactured articles which I shall not detail at present, but upon which a real and substantial preference could be granted to Great Britain without injuring Australian manufactures. I give the Ministry credit for the desire to launch the question of preference, and to give it all the glamour of a practical realization, but there is ground for a difference of opinion in regard to the steps necessary to be taken. The Government have a perfect right to persevere with their system, and if they think fit to carry it out. But I am to some extent hampered by my position in connexion with the reports of the Commission. These reports, in my. judgment, and according to my intention, represent the high-water mark of protection against the whole1 world. I never made any reservation that I intended, directly or indirectly, to grant any increase of the duties therein recommended in order to secure any’ system of British preference. But I could present a scheme, or assist the Ministry in preparing a scheme of preferential trade, which would be a real one, and which at the same time would not imperil Australian manufactures.. I have analyzed the list of Government in creases of duties, designed to give what is called British preference, and find that the items on which increased duties have’ been proposed, as against foreign countries, coupled with the retention of theTariff Commission’s recommendations, sofar as imports from the United Kingdom are concerned, comprise twenty-eight groups. The following table contains a comparison of the Tariff Commission’s pro,posals with the former duties, and also shows the increases proposed by the Ministry in order to give British preference; - :
– What does the preference amount to?
– From 5 to 10 per cent.
– It rarely amounts to 10 per cent.
– Are these items in respect of which the honorable member would grant substantial preference?
– No. I have here a second statement showing the Government increases of duty without British preference. That is to say, ona number of items the Government have proposed, increases of duty in excess of the recommendations of the Tariff Commission without granting British preference.. The table is as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070821_reps_3_38/>.